Somali pirates cut ransoms to clear hijacked ships

Monday, 21 March 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali pirates has said they would lower some of their ransom demands to get a faster turnover of ships they hijack in the Indian Ocean.

Armed pirate gangs, who have made millions of dollars capturing ships as far south as the Seychelles and eastwards towards India, said they were holding too many vessels and needed a quicker handover to generate more income.

“I believe there is no excuse for taking high ransoms. At least each of our groups holds ships now,” pirate Hussein told Reuters from Hobyo on the Somalian coast. He said the pirates were holding more than 30 ships at the moment.

“We have lowered the ransom only for the ships we have used to hijack other ships. We sometimes release these ships free of charge for they generate more (money). But we shall not lower the ransom for the bulk ships we are sure can bring bulk money.”

Using captured merchant vessels as launchpads for new hijackings, the pirates have grown bolder despite a loosely coordinated global response, and insurance premiums for shipping lines have rocketed.

Pirates hold seized ships for an average of up to 150 days before freeing them for ransoms, some as high as $9.5 million for the release of Samho Dream, a South Korean oil supertanker.

Abdullahi, another pirate, said any decrease in ransom would be calculated by the ship’s value, its cargo and the length of time it had been held.