Pirates Seize Seven Ships in 12 Days

The prize: A Saudi supertanker with 2 million barrels of crude oil.

The 1,080-foot supertanker, MV SIRIUS STAR, owned by Dubai-based Vela International Marine Ltd., was hijacked approximately 450 nautical miles off the Kenyan coast. Warships will not be diverted from the Gulf of Aden, say spokespersons from the U.S. 5th Fleet and NATO, because the Saudi tanker was seized far south of the Gulf of Aden. The warships from the eight country coalition continue to patrol the critical zone leading to and from the Suez Canal, which leaves the Saudi tanker owners on their own to pay ransoms and negotiate for the crew of 25 captured onboard.

The Saudi government said it will join the coalition patrolling the Red Sea region because there have been over 80 attacks this year on commercial shipping. Saudi Arabian has a French equipped navy with approximate 20,000 personnel, but it has never been on the high-seas in action.

Two small boats approached the anchored tanker and climbed onboard using rope ladders. The ship and its $100 million of crude oil cargo was taken to the port city of Harardhere on the Somali coast. An Iranian cargo ship, operated by the Islamic Republic of Ian Shipping Lines was also hijacked this week as was a Thai fishing boat with a crew of 18, and a Greek bulk carrier.

Odjell SE, the Norwegian tanker group, said it will divert its ships south around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope instead to transiting the Suez Canal. Experts say the new journey will add approximately 15 days to a voyage at a cost of $20K to $30K.