Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Somali pirates catch a supertanker

Pirates operating off of Somalia's lawless east coast have caught their biggest prize yet - the "Sirius Star" a fully loaded Saudi Arabian oil tanker. The supertanker's two million barrels of oil are estimated to be worth $100 million dollars. Not only is the Sirius Star the largest ship ever caught by Somalia's pirates, it was also captured further out to sea than any other ship previously, the Sirius Star was nearly 500 miles from Somalia when it was seized.

Despite the presence of ships from a number of the world's navies, and several attacks foiled by British and Russian warships, the pirates have been having their best two weeks of piracy ever, capturing at least eight ships.

Once caught the ships, including the Sirius Star, are brought by the pirates back to Somalia. The pirates then anchor them just off the coast and force the owners of the ships to pay ransoms to get them and the crew back. Often, the pirates keep the cargo, though in the case of the Sirius Star this could be impossible since there are no oil terminals in the pirate-held part of Somalia.

Just to make the situation worse, eight suspected pirates being held in jail in the Puntland region of Somalia were reported to have escaped from prison last week. The European forces operating off of Somalia have preferred to turn the pirates they catch over to local authorities in Puntland. Of course how eager the folks in Puntland are to punish the pirates is an open question since piracy provides much of the annual income for the impoverished region.
Sphere: Related Content

No comments: