Pirates take Crew Hostage on the Ship Sirius Star

Posted: November 19, 2008 in boat, boating, boats
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pirates in Somalia have taken more hostages in what has become the world’s most dangerous waters for piracy. This time, some of the hostages are from the UK. The M/V Sirius Star was seized Saturday off the Kenyan coast and has been taken to a port in Somalia.

From the BBC News:

The families of two British crew men held by pirates aboard a hijacked Saudi Arabian oil tanker said they hoped the men would be “home safely very soon”.

Peter French and James Grady are on the Sirius Star, a supertanker which was sailing from Saudi Arabia to the US when it was attacked last weekend.

Mr French, of County Durham, is the chief engineer. Mr Grady is a second officer from the Strathclyde area.

Their families said they appreciated the concern shown for the two men.

Ransom negotiations

Mr French is married with a 17-year-old daughter.

His friend, former sea captain Mark Dolan, told the BBC Mr French was “an excellent chief engineer and a great person socially”.

“I think he will be most angry and frustrated and itching to have a go back so hopefully he will bide his time and not do anything silly,” he said.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office on behalf of the families said: “The families of Peter French, from County Durham, and James Grady, from Strathclyde, greatly appreciate the concern that has been expressed by people throughout the UK and beyond, about Peter and James.

Mark Dolan: ‘He’ll be itching to have a go back’

“They hope that Peter and James will be home safely to their families very soon.”

The Sirius Star is the biggest tanker ever hijacked, carrying a cargo of two million barrels of Saudi oil – worth more than $100m (£67m).

Pirates boarded it last weekend more than 400 nautical miles from the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

The tanker’s owners are currently negotiating a possible ransom, according to the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal.

He would not confirm whether a ransom was likely to be agreed, but said talks had begun.

The BBC’s Security Correspondent Frank Gardner said the owners, Vela International, had set up an incident room to deal with both the welfare of the captives’ families and the ransom negotiations.

‘Off their hands’

He said the pirates would now be very aware of the high value and high profile of their activities.

“If they draw this out too long, they risk rather more attention than they would like so they probably want to get the ship, the cargo and its crew off their hands as quickly as possible and have a load of used dollar bills circulating around Harardhere port, which is near where its held,” our correspondent added.

“The last thing anybody wants is a bloodbath where people get hurt so usually crews are released unharmed.”

The UK Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, has called for the immediate release of the crew and said the Royal Navy was involved in efforts to resolve the situation.

There has been a surge in piracy incidents off the coast of Somalia with more than 90 vessels coming under attack this year.

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