January 9, 2009
Sirius Star freed after ransom drop
Somali pirates have reportedly left the hijacked Saudi-owned super tanker Sirius Star after a ransom payment was parachuted onto the ship by a small aircraft. The drop was photographed by U.S. Navy observers who have been monitoring the tankers.
Pirates recently appear to have been growing wary about ransom delivery methods of late, with delivery of a ransom via balloon being considered in negotiations over the release of a Turkish vessel.
News agency reports quote various individuals purporting to be pirate associates as saying the ransom paid for Sirius Star was $3 million.
The Liberian-flagged tanker, owned by the Saudi Arabian based Saudi Aramco, and operated by Vela International was attacked more than 450 nautical miles off the African coast on November 15, 2008. The crew of 25 Croatian, British, Philippine, Polish, and Saudi Arabian merchant mariners were held hostage.
Andrew Mwangura, of the East African Seafarers Assistance Program, confirmed that the vessel was on the move.
"The last batch of gunmen have disembarked from the Sirius Star. She is now steaming out to safe waters," he told Reuters.
UPDATE: Pirates drown in botched getaway