This is an ARAMCO owned VLCC and an extremely serious incident, going to be watching this closely.
Right. I watched the news this afternoon and the anchors had no idea. According to them, they couldn’t understand…“how this is possible, why the ship’s crew didn’t defend themselves, how the pirates can “drive” the ship, and, most importantly, the ship’s personnel must’ve helped the pirates. It was an inside job.” Someone should take these newspeople over to the Gulf of Aden and show them what it’s like. Let’s see - charged fire hose versus an AK-47 and RPG. What’s even more depressing is the public believes these people! Not anyone’s fauly per se; this ongoing epidemic hasn’t exactly been well publicized in the general media. When the Indian frigate fired on the pirates last week, that made the news, and, of course, the public was outraged. Picking on the poor, IIRC. When a hijacked oil tanker (mind you, they have no interest in the oil, just the large ransom they can get) drives up the price of oil, it’s definitely a sad, sad world. Not a word about the disposition of the crew, only about this is why oil is trading higher. I relalized long ago we will never be viewed in highest regards by media outlets, but it really hit a nerve with me when they suggested ship’s officers are in cahoots with Somali pirates. There was no mention of the NATO warships in the region, which really surprised me. Then again, the military doing anything for peacekeeping isn’t mentioned on MSNBC, ever.
You can’t depend on regular news for insight into this sort of thing. NATO has a relatively small presence along with a few USA warships. The Russians are off Somalia and everyone fears them but they would likely not come to the aid of a Saudi ship without a deposit. It’s going to be interesting to see how this works out. Everyone knows you don’t shoot it out on a crude carrier so money will have to be paid. What happens afterwards will be the most interesting part. The Somali pirates [depending the group] are usually pretty good at collecting their booty and letting everyone go. But they may have brought about the end to their industry with this latest caper, it going to be something to watch.
Having been on VLCCs I was absolutely amazed at the balls it took to pull this off. Jayzuz Keerist !
"PIRATES have seized the biggest booty ever taken on the high seas, capturing a fully-laden Saudi oil supertanker and its multinational crew, among them two British merchant seamen.
The Sirius Star - three times the size of an aircraft carrier and carrying its full complement of two million barrels of crude oil worth at least $US100 million ($154 million) - was hijacked in the early hours of Sunday 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa in Kenya, according to the US Fifth Fleet."
I’ve read that some shipping companies were now putting guys from blackwater and such on thier vessels, now this will become the norm as the insurers will be insisting that the cargo be protected. And all that I see is some poor deck hand getting in the way when the bullets start flying and getting killed.
This is why the world needs strong navy’s even in times of peace. Give that area an aircraft carrier and a few seal teams with the authority to go after these guys on the thier own turf and it would end very quickly.
Insurers have been warning that their policies were not in effect in certain high piracy areas or increasing the premium for traveling thru them. Some companies took a chance and went thru those areas anyway for cost saving reasons. But the Sirius was well out of those areas and therefore this surprises me even more. I wonder if there is not more going on here than is being reported, such as, who are these pirates really? However, there’s not really enough information available to draw any conclusions yet. A SEAL team or any other special ops group would for political and operational reasons have a hard time of it attacking a Saudi ship registered under a flag of convienence carrying a very dangerous cargo in international waters. This scenario has been thought of before and the consensus was to do nothing as long as the ship stayed away from a major population or environmentally sensitive area. The Saudis will pay a ranson is my guess. I know the crew on the Sirius are going WTF ???
HaHa…i know i would be… but how do ya’ll think this will affect the licensing side of things? do you think the USCG is yet again going to use this as a reason to draw even more money with some new ridiculous piece of paper we have to have???
Do not think for a second that what Jemplayer is suggesting is out of the question. The Sirius Star was carrying its cargo enroute to the US. If you guys remember the US - Kuwaiti tanker escorts of the late 1980s early 1990s. The USN would put the American Flag on foreign tankers to identify them as being under protection of the US Navy. If attacked it would be perceived as an attack against the United States. This program was extremely successful. The sole purpose was to ensure that the flow of oil did not stop to the US. Our military presence in the Middle East is arguably to support and guard the flow of oil to this nation. It is conceivable to believe that we would defend US bound vessels with military resources. One of the functions of the US Navy is the projection of sea power to maintain commercial trade in international waters. It would only take a single attempt of piracy on a US protected vessel and all hell would brake loose.
The US isn’t going to be putting their flag on a Saudi owned tanker now for a couple of reasons. One; the Saudi Arabians would be aligning themselves with the USA while they have been trying to distance themselves, at least on the surface, due to internal political reasons. Two; It won’t be needed. They will buy themselves out of this provided the thing doesn’t blow up which is a real possibility. Anyone with crude tanker experience knows the Somalians have to keep the engineers on board to keep the cargo from getting volatile as I doubt there are a lot of Somalian tanker engineers.
The USA’s military is extremely over-extended right now and will avoid doing much more than saber rattling. Worse case scenario is oil goes back up to what it was in May or June temporarily. I’d guess a regime change is coming in Somalia soon. OPEC/Russia and the Chinese could do this behind the scenes, they are mutually dependent and a nice quid pro quo could result.
For the life of me though I cannot shake the idea of the audacity of the whole thing. To add insult to injury they’ve now parked that big mofo off Somalia’s coast. It reminds me of pirate tales of the 1600-1700’s.
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<div class="byline] By Louis Hansen
© October 18, 2008 </div>
Blackbeard, meet Blackwater. Worldwide.
The Moyock, N.C., company has a ship in Hampton Roads ready to begin patrolling the Gulf of Aden to protect merchant vessels against pirates.
The company has spoken to about 10 shipping firms but as yet has no takers, said Bill Mathews, Blackwater Worldwide executive vice president.
“There’s definitely a need and a desire,” Mathews said during a tour of the 183-foot vessel, named McArthur, on Friday. It’s moored at a commercial pier at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base.
Somali pirates in late September seized a Ukrainian ship loaded with military vehicles in the Gulf of Aden and still hold the ship while demanding a multimillion-dollar ransom. The standoff is being monitored by the U.S. Navy.
In the first half of this year, pirates launched two dozen attacks off the Somali coast, including 19 in the Gulf of Aden, Said the International Maritime Bureau. At least eight vessels reported attacks by grenade launchers and automatic weapons, the organization said.
The 830-ton McArthur was built about 40 years ago for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a research vessel. The ship spent much of its government career in the Arctic and other far-flung seas, said Blackwater’s Tom Ridenour, the ship’s captain.
The ship is named for William Pope McArthur, a 19th-century naval officer and Coast Survey hydrographer.
Blackwater bought the vessel about two years ago and repaired and upgraded the craft in a Seattle shipyard. Mathews declined to reveal the purchase price but said the overhauled ship has a value of at least $15 million.
It went into commercial use last September, said spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell.
The company has contracts with the Coast Guard and Navy, among others, to train service members on maritime security operations, Mathews said. A typical training mission could have the McArthur acting as a target vessel that U.S. forces need to board in open waters.
The ship has several upgrades, including a helicopter pad and storage shed capable of keeping two small MD-530 aircraft. It can carry 44 passengers including crew.
For anti-piracy operations, the 14-sailor crew would be supplemented with Blackwater security guards, four rigid-hull inflatable boats and helicopters, Mathews said. Security teams could follow a merchant vessel by air and land.
Mathews said the crew and guards are qualified to provide maritime security, noting that the security teams would consist of former Navy SEALs. The force is highly trained in handling vehicle boardings and anti-terrorism missions.
The ship could be overseas within 40 days, pending approval from the State Department and roughly a month long transit across the Atlantic.
The use of private companies to protect merchant ships has a long history, said Claude Berube, a former congressional staffer and professor who has written on the topic. The East India Co. employed private convoys about a century ago along the coast of Africa, he said.
Even today, the area remains at risk.
As piracy threats have grown near the Horn of Africa, insurance premiums on ships have risen ten-fold, Berube said. The U.S. Navy and its allies cannot cover all the seas, and a private force could help fill the security gap, he said.
“It would be feasible,” he said. “I think we have to be open to all options.”
Louis Hansen, (757) 446-2322, email@example.com
I worked for the company that refitted the McArthur on her sistership. It would be a good pirate hunter if it would go faster than 10 knots! I know it has a helo and some very fast rhibs but I don’t know how safe I would feel onboard that vessel with rpg’s being fired at it and not being able to run / maneuver very fast.
I think it is a good idea but I would think they would want a much more aggressive vessel to hunt pirates!