Vietnam firm pays ‘millions’ to free pirated ship

September 26, 2011 10:24 am

, HANOI, Sept 26 – A Vietnamese shipping firm paid more than $2 million in ransom to free its crewmen held for months by Somali pirates, a company executive said after the sailors arrived home.

All 24 Vietnamese crew members landed on Friday at Hanoi’s Noi Bai international airport, Nguyen Truong Son, deputy general director of the Hoang Son Ltd Co, told AFP.

“We had to pay the pirates $2.6 million. The money was from our own company,” said Son, whose firm has an office in the northern port city of Haiphong.

The European Union’s anti-piracy naval force reported on January 20 that the Hoang Son Sun, a 22,835-tonne bulk carrier, was believed to have been captured about 520 nautical miles south-east of Muscat.

The ship was Mongolian-flagged but Vietnamese-owned.

Piracy has flourished in war-torn Somalia, outwitting international efforts including constant patrols by warships and tough sentencing of convicted pirates.

According to Hans Tino Hansen, managing director of Denmark-based Risk Intelligence, the size of ransoms paid has steadily risen to about $5 million for an average-sized merchant vessel.

Son said the repatriated Vietnamese sailors will undergo health checks.

“We know that some might have been affected, physically and mentally,” he said, but gave no details about the piracy attack or the treatment of the crew.

Somali pirates hold at least 49 vessels and more than 500 hostages, according to the monitoring group Ecoterra.

The United Nations registered 171 attacks in the first half of 2011.


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