Samho Dream free for $9m
A whopping $9m ransom has been paid to pirates onboard a hijacked South Korean VLCC which has been freed on Saturday morning.
The vast sum reportedly paid out to free the 319,400-dwt Samho Dream(built 2002) is believed to be a record amount for a hijacked ship and crew with some reports indicating it is in excess of $9m.
TradeWinds has been told by a knowledgeable source that the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker was released at around 08:30 UTC on Saturday morning and that a figure of $9m was expected to be paid out.
The ransom drop all but brings to an end the seven-month ordeal of the 24 crew members onboard the Samho Shipping-owned vessel which was snatched in the Somali Basin on 4 April while en route from Iraq to the US with a full cargo of crude.
There is no word on the welfare of the crew although there are no reports of any injuries or casualties. The condition of the cargo is unknown but it is likely the ship will put into port for a crew change and inspection as well as to pick up supplies and bunkers.
Since its hijacking it has been regularly put out to sea by its captors with concerned authorities raising the unlikely prospect of it being used as a mothership from which to attack other vessels.The pirates have not shied away from using such a valuable ship and cargo to their advantage in the ransom negotiations, at one stage threatening to blow up the ship and crew if a large amount was not paid out.
In recent months TradeWinds spoke with the ship’s master who confirmed that food and water supplies were running low. The interview was, however, ended abruptly by an irate pirate in an expletive-riddled tirade.
The Samho Dream was the third VLCC to be seized by Somali pirates and was by far the longest held with the ransom amount appearing to top that paid out for the other two.
Vela’s 318,000-dwt Sirius Star (built 2008) was taken on 15 November 2008 off Kenya while en route from Saudi Arabia to the US with 25 crew and a full cargo of crude. It was, however, released on 9 January 2009 after a ransom of around $3m was reportedly paid.
John Angelicoussis saw his 300,300-dwt Maran Centaurus (built 1995) snatched in the Somali Basin on 29 November 2009 while also en route from Saudi Arabia to the US with a full cargo of crude. It and its crew of 28 were freed on 18 January this year with the ransom reported at anything between $5.5m and $9m.
By Eoin O’Cinneide in London
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