Twenty-four members of the Vietnamese crew of a container ship, the Hoang Son Sun, arrived in Hanoi on September 23 members landed on Friday, after the ship's owner, Hoang Son Ltd Co., paid Somalian pirates a US$2.6 million ransom. Although Vietnamese-owned, the ship was registered in Mongolia. The ship, a 22,000-ton bulk carrier, was originally home-ported in Haiphong.
COMMENT: Nguyen Truong Son, deputy general director of the Hoang Son Ltd Co. was quoted as telling the AFP news service that "We had to pay the pirates $2.6 million. The money was from our own company." This is a very strange statement for Son to make considering that the ship was operating in waters reachable by Somalian pirates. Nevertheless, the ship apparently had no piracy neutralization plan in place.
The vessel was believed to have been seized about 520 nautical miles south-east of Muscat on January 20. Son should consider that he got off easy, considering that Danish security firm, RiskIntelligence, estimates that the average merchant vessel pays an estimated US$5 million for the release of both crew and vessel (http://www.riskintelligence.eu).
According to the monitoring group, Ecoterra, Somalian pirates hold at least 49 vessels and more than 500 hostages. The United Nations reported 171 attacks in the first half of 2011.