'Crew safe' as pirates open talks

Somali pirates who hijacked an oil tanker with 25 crew, including two Britons, on board have opened negotiations, the vessel's operator said today.

Vela International Marine Ltd, the Dubai-based marine company that operates the Saudi-owned Sirius Star, said it was working to secure the release of the supertanker and her crew.

A spokesman for the company said all 25 crew are believed to be safe.



The tanker was fully laden when it was seized by a group of armed men on Sunday, 420 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, the spokesman said.

The large oil tanker is owned by Saudi oil company Aramco but was sailing under a Liberian flag.

It is 1,080ft (330m) long and can carry about two million barrels of oil.

It is thought the pirates were taking the tanker to Eyl, a port in the northern Puntland region of Somalia, which has become notorious for pirate activity over the past months. Dozens of ships are thought to be being held captive there.

The supertanker is the largest ship to fall victim to pirates, the US Navy said.

The Vela International spokesman said: "All 25 crew members are reported to be safe and the vessel is fully laden.

"A Vela response team has been established and is working to ensure the safe release of the crew members and the vessel."

A spokesman for the Foreign Office confirmed that two of those on board are British but could not give any details of their role on the ship.

He said: "We are seeking more information on the incident."

The hijack, which was the first successful attack so far out at sea, raises fears that international patrols nearer the coast and in the Gulf of Aden will not be enough to protect vital trade routes as pirate gangs become ever more audacious.

The vessel is the second of six Very Large Carriers manufactured by Dubai-based Vela International and set sail on its maiden voyage in March this year.

A spokesman for the Royal Navy said he could not say if British servicemen were involved in any attempts to rescue the vessel.

"It is our policy not to discuss operational matters," he said.



Lieutenant Nate Christensen, deputy spokesman at the US Navy, Fifth Fleet, said: "We have heard it is still nearing its anchorage position off the coast but we do not have any more information than that."



He said US ships were in "visual range" of the Ukrainian freighter Faina, which was seized in September and is now at Hobyo, on the coast of Somalia, north of Mogadishu.

He said: "Right now, we don't anticipate having the same type of thing in this situation but that could change."

He said they were not in direct communication with the Sirius Star and only knew of the welfare of the crew through reports.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz