Maritime Casualties--January 21, 2010

Record Ransom Paid to Pirates, Attack Foiled and 11 Still Missing in the South Pacific

Greek Tanker Released for Record Ransom

A ransom payment of $5.5 to $7 million was dropped via helicopter Sunday to pirates holding the Greek tanker, Maran Centaurus. The 299,900 dwt tanker was seized off Somali's coast near the Seychelles November 29, 2009.

The tanker was en route to the U.S. with 2 million barrels of crude oil and 28 crew members on board when the hijacking occured. The oil was worth, at the time, about $75 a barrel, totaling $150 million. By the first week of December, the tanker was anchored about 30 miles south of Hobya and remained on the coast until it was released this past weekend.

Owned by Maran Tankers Management, Inc., Maran Centaurus, was the second VLCC vessel hijacked, but the only ship to be released with the largest ransom ever paid to the pirates. Rival pirate gangs began firing shots at another over the share-out of the money. Two pirates were killed in the clash and delayed the release of the tanker.

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11 Chinese Passengers Missing in the Pacific

Maritime authorities and local troops in China launched a search and rescue after police received missing persons reports from families of 11 passengers on a ship heading to Guam.

According to local reports, after the engine of the unregistered ship went down 500 miles off Guam on January 9, the passengers called for rescue by maritime satellite phone as the ship drifted on the sea.

The 11 passengers and villagers from Quanzhou, including 10 men and a woman from east China's Fujian Province, were aboard a 31-meter-long wooden vessel that departed for Guam January 1 from Fujian's port city of Putian.

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NATO Helps Foil Pirate Attack

A tanker intercepted a potential pirate hijacking with the help of strategic NATO warships. The Great Eastern Shipping tanker, Jag Layak was attacked last Saturday in the Gulf of Aden with 31 Indian nationals on board. Due to evasive maneuvers, the tanker was able to escape.

Jag Layak was en route to India carrying crude oil when pirates attempted to board. Nearby NATO warships intervened, all crew and vessel are safe and on their way to its intended destination.