Pirates Drown with Ransom, and Other News Between Pirates and Shipping.
As pirates released the Saudi tanker, but some drown with bootie: Filipino crews from three ships released: Tanker crews receive double pay for sailing the Gulf of Aden. And, Nigerian pirates attack another offshore support vessel.
Pirates leaving the Saudi tanker “SIRUS STAR,” which has been held for two months, drowned with their share of the $3 million ransom. Eight pirates in a small boat were chased by other pirates wanting to steal their share of the ransom. The small boat being pursued executed a radical turnaround maneuver but capsized, and five of the eight pirates drowned.
U.S. Navy photos show a parachute carrying what they described as "an apparent payment," floating toward the tanker. The SIRUS STAR and its 25-member crew had been held since November 15, 2008. The crude cargo onboard was valued at $100 million at the time, however the cost of crude has dropped dramatically and the pirates were left taking less than the original ransom demand.
On the same day the Saudi tanker was freed, pirates released a captured Iranian-chartered cargo ship as well. The Iranian ship, DAYLIGHT, was transporting 36 tons of wheat when it was attacked in the Gulf of Aden on Nov 18th. The crew of 25 appears to be in good health and the ship is returning to Iran.
Additionally, the Somali pirates released 21 Filipinos captured on the MV AFRICAN SANDERLING, and 36 Filipinos were released on January 10, 2009 from the tanker SIRUS STAR and the Iranian cargo ship the MV DELIGHT.
MEANWHILE, a Norwegian cable ship, EIDESVIK VIKING FORCADOS, which was working on an ExxonMobil underwater pipeline off of Nigeria, was attacked by gun-toting pirates. The pirates reached the ship on a few swift boats and managed to climb aboard but were not able to get inside the 289-foot ship. The pirates fired shots and then left the ship. Armed groups in the Niger Delta and pirates have been focusing on oil companies’ production facilities and their workers have reduced the amount of crude being produced. Today, crude production is approximately 2 million barrels a day down from the high of 2.6 million in 2006.
The Saudi National Shipping Company’s (the transport arm of Saudi Aramco) tanker, SIRUS STAR, which was released this week after paying $3 million in ransom, has created apprehension amongst the mariners working for the company. While most the company’s tankers are sailing around Cape Hope, there are ships that must transit the Gulf of Aden. The company president, Saleh al-Shamekh, said those ship’s crews have been compensated approximately double their salaries due to the potential piracy attacks. If the piracy isn’t controlled soon, the company estimates a huge increase in its operating costs. Reportedly, the Saudi company intends to double its fleet in the next five years.