Somali pirates seized Maran Centaurus

Somali pirates seized an oil tanker on its way from Saudi Arabia to the US in the latest in a series of attacks hundreds of miles off the coast of Africa. A gang of nine pirates hijacked the Greek-flagged 300,000 tonne supertanker on Sunday 800 miles (1,287km) close to the Seychelles. It is one of the largest vessels seized by Somali pirates, who regularly mount attacks on some of the 20,000 ships that pass through the Suez Canal between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean each year. It prompted warnings that the seas from the Suez canal to the Seychelles would soon be too dangerous for insurers to underwrite cargos passing through the area. The hijacking of the Maran Centaurus underlines the ease with which pirates can prey on ships far out to sea despite dozens of European Union, Nato and other warships.
The 28 crewmen are safe and well according to a spokesman from the Greek managing company, Maran Tankers Management, which has received a telephone call from the bridge of the Maran Centaurus. The crew of the vessel, which is classified as a VLCC (very large crude carrier) is made up of 16 Filipinos, nine Greeks, two Ukrainians and a Romanian. The company said that the tanker was carrying about 275,000 metric tonnes of crude. At an average price of about $75 (£46) a barrel, the cargo is worth more than $20 million.

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