Release of Belize-flag MV Faina?

A deal has been reached for the release by Somali pirates of a Ukrainian-owned ship, seized in the Gulf of Aden more than two months ago, carrying a controversial cargo of 33 Russian T-72 tanks. A "few technicalities" remain.
The arrangement to release the MV Faina and its 17-member crew came after protracted negotiations as the vessel, anchored off the Somali port of Hardhere, was surrounded by US Navy and other warships.


Pakistani vessel sought in Mumbai attack

An American counterterrorism official said there was strong evidence that Lashkar-e-Taiba, Pakistani militants who have fought Indian troops in Kashmir, had a “maritime capability” and would have been able to mount the sophisticated operation in Mumbai. The Mumbai terrorists, says a prisoner, set off on November 21 from an isolated creek near Karachi without the arms and ammunition they were to use in Mumbai. The group received arms and ammunition from a large Pakistani vessel which picked them up the following day. The vessel, whose ownership is now the subject of an international probe, had four Pakistanis apart from the crew.

A day later, they came across an Indian-owned trawler, Kuber, which was promptly commandeered on the seas. Four of the fishermen who were on the trawler were killed, but its skipper, or tandel in fishermen lingo, Amarjit Singh, was forced to proceed towards India. Amarjit was killed the next day, and Ismail the terrorist who was killed at Girgaum Chowpaty took the wheel.

A trained sailor, Ismail used the GPS to reach Mumbai coast on November 26. The group, however, slowed down its advance as they had reached during the day time while the landing was planned after dusk. The group shifted to inflatable boats, before disembarking at Badhwar Park in Cuffe Parade.

The Kuber had set sail for Jakhau in Kutch near India-Pakistan border for fishing on November 14. Usually these boats return from fishing within 10 days but this one did not. The fisheries department was alerted about this on November 24. Kuber, with a 118 HP marine engine, had five crew members on board.


Sirius Star: enter the CIA?

The pirates who captured the Saudi oil tanker Sirius Star have broken off negotiations with the ship's owners, apparently insisting they want to talk with a wealthy Virginia woman with close ties to the US military and intelligence communities.

Ballarin has been in regular touch with the pirates by satellite phone -- the last contact was Monday at 5 p.m. Eastern Time -- and had just returned from Somalia Nov. 18.
One might wonder just why Ballarin is doing this and what she has to gain. Is she CIA or a cutaway since she does have former intelligence and military officials on the board of one of her companies, Black Star, and is known to have excellent contacts among the intelligence community?


Sirius Star closer to Eyl

The Somali pirates holding the Saudi oil tanker Sirius Star and its crew have moved the ship further north.

The move puts them only 20 miles (32km) from the MV Faina, a hijacked Ukrainian cargo ship carrying tanks.

While this puts them closer to US Navy ships shadowing the Faina, the area also has a greater concentration of other pirates.

Somali clan elder Abdisalan Khalif Ahmed said the ship moved Sunday to about 28 miles (45 kilometers) from its earlier location, putting it about 30 miles (50 kilometers) off the coast of the coastal village of Harardhere.

Piracy off Somalia to get worse

C-SPAN watch

Panelists talked about recent attacks on international commerce in the Gulf of Aden and increased threats to trade by piracy. Among the topics they addressed were a growing threat posed by Somali pirates, the impact on political stability and maritime security of the seizure of ships and cargo, and potential responses by the international community to the problem.


Where in shallow waters is Sirius Star?

The Sirius Star's captain, Marek Nishky, was allowed to speak to the BBC by telephone although under the scrutiny of one or more of his captors. He said that the ship was "basically" in the same location, but do not ask me such questions. There are also conflicting claims concerning the ship’s location, moved because militant Islamists have objected to the pirates taking a vessel owned by a Muslim nation.

Bloomberg claims that the vessel had already been moved from its former position near Haradhere, north of Mogadishu, while Agence France Presse said it is preparing to move. It is unclear where else the vessel might be positioned in Somalia’s shallow coastal waters.

The Islamic Courts Union claims control of Somalia against Ethiopian irregulars financed by the U.S.


Somalia Islamic Courts Union backs Sirius Star

Somali pirates who hijacked a Saudi Arabian supertanker moved the vessel from its location at the port city of Harardhere, after Islamist militias threatened to attack them and rescue the ship, a tribal elder said.

The Islamic Courts Union warned the pirates who hijacked a Saudi Arabian supertanker to leave Harardhere, Ali Elmi, a local elder in the town, said. The tanker was taken out to sea and its destination isn’t clear. Al-Shabaab, a separate Islamist group, also said it would attack the pirates if they don’t free the ship.


Private Guards onboard?

For $30,000, Nick Davis will arrange a team of three private guards to travel on a boat and scare away potential pirates. He has teams now on seven ships in the Gulf of Aden.


Enter the Kidnap & Ransom specialist K&R

There are around 12,000 pirates in the water now and all of them know that a ransom has been asked for. A kidnap-for-ransom consultant, known as a K&R specialist, is likely telling that now to the Saudi firm that wants to recover its supertanker the Sirius Star, loaded with $100 million worth of crude oil.Consequently, a new industry has sprung up in the neighboring country of Kenya where tugboat captains in the coastal city of Mombasa offer to make the drop for a fee. As hijackings have increased and ransom payments have grown more extravagant, so have the delivery fees.

Owners of Sirius Star are the final arbiters of what happens

The pirates are expected to table an opening demand for the return of Vela-operated very large crude carrier Sirius Star in the order of $20-50m, before finally settling for $5m-$10m. Somalian pirate interests could have already demanded a ransom of $25m, giving a 10-day deadline for payment.
According to the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, "I know the owners of the tanker are negotiating on the issue. We do not like to negotiate with terrorists or hijackers. But the owners of the tanker, they are the final arbiters of what happens there."
A previously captured fishing boat being used by pirates as a base to launch their speedboats far out to sea was destroyed by INS frigate Tabar. Two speedboats escaped.


Provisions for Sirius Star

Haradhere beach
Somali businessmen are sending food, cigarettes and drinks to a hijacked Saudi supertanker. Fisherman Hassan Jimale says he saw three boats make return trips to the supertanker overnight.

Negotiations for Sirius Star, ransom for HK bulker

"Negotiators are located on board the ship and on land. Once they have agreed on the ransom, it will be taken in cash to the oil tanker[Sirius Star]," said a man identified as Farah Abd Jameh on Al-Jazeera television, who did not indicate the amount to be paid.

"We assure the safety of the ship that carries the ransom. We will mechanically count the money and we have machines that can detect fake money," the man said on an audio tape produced by the Dubai-based television network.

His comments coincided with the release of the 1998-built, 27,383 dwt Great Creation, with 25 crew onboard, which was released today after being hijacked off Somalia on September 18.

Hong Kong’s Marine Department, which flagged the Sinotrans Shipping-owned vessel, said the ship was freed around 1000 hrs and was heading to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.

A department spokesman said the crew comprising a Sri Lankan master, 23 Chinese seafarers and a Hong Kong turbine technician, were safe and the ship was undamaged.

The Great Creation was carrying chemical fertiliser from Tunisia to Pipavav in northwestern India when it was attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden.


Sirius Star anchored off Haradhere

The pirates had approached the tanker from the stern in speedboats and thrown grapnel hooks tied to rope ladders, most likely boarding unopposed as the ship cruised on auto-pilot with nobody keeping watch on the bridge.
Somalis on shore were stunned by the gigantic vessel — as long as an aircraft carrier at 1,080 feet — as it passed just off the coast. Two small boats floated out to the ship and 18 men — presumably other pirates — climbed aboard with ropes woven into a ladder.
Commander Jane Campbell, of the US Navy's 5th Fleet, told the BBC it had warned shipping companies that the US naval presence could "not be everywhere", adding: "For that reason we have strongly encouraged proactive self-protection measures for the companies."
"Our first and foremost priority is ensuring the safety of the crew," Salah B. Ka'aki, President & CEO of Vela International Marine Ltd. said. "We are in communication with their families and are working toward their safe and speedy return."


"A military response" to Sirius Star?

The pirates’ profits are set to reach a record $50 million in 2008, Somali officials say. Shipping firms are usually prepared to pay, because the sums are still low compared with the value of the ships. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said
"Once [the pirates] get to a point where they can board, it becomes very difficult to get them off, because, clearly, now they hold hostages."
Given the value of the cargo in this instance, a military response has not been ruled out, they say.

Sirius Star Voyage to Eyl

To put the challenge into geographic perspective, the area involved off the coast of Somalia and Kenya as well as the Gulf of Aden equals more than 1.1 million sq miles. That is roughly four times the size of the US state of Texas or the size of the Mediterranean and Red Seas combined.

Says Terje Storeng, President/CEO of Odfjell SE:
- Unless we are explicitly committed by existing contracts to sail
through this area, as from today we will re-route our ships around
Cape of Good Hope. Sirius Star hijacked bound for Cape!

Sirius Star cargo worth $100 million?

The Sirius Star is the biggest vessel ever hijacked with a cargo of Oil worth over $100 million. It can carry about 2 million barrels of oil. Crude oil fell, heading for the lowest close in 21 months. Crude oil for December delivery fell to $55.19 a barrel at the 2:30 p.m. close of floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Eyl video 1Eyl video 2

US Navy denies Sirius Star released

This afternoon, Saudi-owned TV station al-Arabyia reported that the ship had been released, citing official Saudi sources. Owner Saudi Aramco said they had no knowledge of the release. Us Navy denied reports that it had been freed.

The tanker was heading to NuStar's St. Eustatius terminal, but the crude is not theirs -- it would only be stored at their terminal in tankage leased by Saudi. NuStar Energy operates the St. Eustatius Statia Terminals, Netherlands Antilles.

Panamanian-flag chemical carrier hijacked

The Chemstar Venus was seized by pirates on 16 November 08 off Somalia.

The vessel is operated by Japan’s Kaiun Kaisha, classed by ClassNK and insured through the Japan Shipowners’ Protection and Indemnity Association.

Japan’s foreign ministry confirmed the Panama-flagged vessel, which was on a voyage from Dumai, Indonesia to the Ukraine,
Name: Chemstar Venus
MMSI: 357280000 [PA]
IMO: 9185841
Callsign: 3FEX9
Speed/Dir: 12.5 kts / 253° WSW
Status: Underway
Type: Tanker Haz A (81)
Details: Chemical / Oil Products Tanker
Size: 148m x 24m x 9.4m
Tonnage: 11951gt, 19455dwt
Built: Feb 1999

british private security guards have repulsed a Somali pirate attack on an unidentified chemical tanker, using equipment billed as the sonic equivalent of a laser, according to the principal of a company that specialises in such services, some say.

Liberian-flag Sirius Star seized by pirates

The U.S. Navy says pirates who seized a Saudi-owned oil supertanker are taking the ship to a Somali port where hijacked vessels are often held.

Navy spokesman Lt. Nathan Christensen of the U.S. 5th Fleet says the pirates holding the MV Sirius Star are "nearing an anchorage point" of the town of Eyl. The port has become a haven for pirates and a number of other ships are still being held there. Sirius Star has been freed, some say. The VLCC is three times the size of a U.S. aircraft carrier. The vessel had been headed for the United States via the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. The Saudi Aramco VLCC MV Sirius Star is one of six very large tankers owned by Vela International Marine and built in South Korea, and registered in Liberia. Vela International Marine Limited is one of the largest crude oil tanker companies in the world and is a subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco). Vela currently owns and operates a modern fleet of 19 Very Large Crude Oil Carriers (VLCCs) and five product tankers of various sizes and also serves as charterer for all of Saudi Aramco"s CIF and ex-ship crude oil and product deliveries worldwide.

Vela’s owned and chartered VLCCs conduct trade primarily between the Middle East, Europe and the United States Gulf Coast. Vela"s owned and chartered product tankers operate exclusively in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf coastal trade. Vela is committed to continue building and operating the most modern, high-quality tankers in the world.