Tanker carrying mostly Filipinos released by Somali pirates

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04:33 PM August 27th, 2011

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August 27th, 2011 04:33 PM

ATHENS—A tanker seized by pirates in the Indian Ocean in October with 24 crew, mostly Filipino seafarers, was released on Friday after a “long and extremely distressing hijack” and the loss of a crewman, the ship’s company said.

“Paradise Navigation SA, operators and managers of the tanker MT Polar, hijacked some 600 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia on October 30, report that the vessel was released by the criminals holding her on Friday,” the company said in a statement.

The Athens-based operators gave no details on the release talks and argued that they had been left “virtually unaided” to deal with the pirates despite patrols by dozens of navy warships from various nations.

“It is a sad indictment of the international initiatives currently in place that they have proved ineffective in stopping piracy,” the company said.

“It is also doubtful that the political will exists to effect the necessary initiatives; accordingly the hijacking of vessels such as the Polar and its use as a ‘mothership’, attacking global shipping, is likely to continue unabated,” they argued.

When seized, the Panamanian-flagged 72,825 ton vessel had a crew of 24—16 Filipinos, three Greek, three Montenegrin, one Romanian,  and one Serbian, the company said.

But one of them, Prudente Cabral, died of a stroke in captivity in November.

Paradise Navigation said Somali pirates are currently holding 25 vessels — a quarter of which are used as “motherships” to launch further attacks — and 600 crew for which millions of dollars are demanded in ransom.

The average ransom per ship is increasing by 30 percent compared to last year, the company said.

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