November 8, 2010
Somali pirates extort record ransom
A Korean owned VLCC hijacked on April 4 when en route for the LOOP (Louisiana Offshore Oil Port) has been freed.
The 319,360 dwt, Marshall Islands registered, Samho Dream with a crew of five Koreans and 19 Filipinos, was released at around 11:30 p.m., Saturday night, according to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The owner, Samho Shipping, reportedly paid a ransom of more than $9 million -- the largest amount thus far extorted from a shipowner by Somali pirates.
The ship had been seized approximately 600 nautical miles off the Somali coast carrying roughly $170 million worth of Iraqi crude oil.
An official from the Foreign Ministry said yesterday that "the Samho Dream is currently being escorted to a safe location by the Korean naval ship Wang-gun from the Cheonghae Unit, and is expected to land at the port of Salalah in Oman this Thursday."
The president of Samho Shipping, Sohn Yong-ho, told Joonang Daily that the crew is in good condition, but he would not disclose the exact amount paid to the pirates, nor how much of the ransom came from insurance payouts.
The Singapore-registered chemical tanker MV Golden Blessing was also released by pirates Saturday, It had been seized on June 28 and carrying a crew of 19 Chinese was released for a reported ransom of $2.8 million.