Pirates set demands for Iran: Chartered ship

Other News Materials 21 November 2008 16:42 (UTC +04:00)

Somali pirates have set demands for releasing a Hong Kong-flagged ship that was chartered by an Iranian company, the Iranian shipping firm said on Friday, without disclosing what they were, reported World Bulletin.

The Delight, with 25 crew and 36,000 tonnes of wheat, was hijacked off the Yemeni coast this week on its way to Iran from Germany. It was chartered by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), the country's biggest shipping firm.

"We are in contact with the vessel. We could get in contact with the vessel yesterday (Thursday) and all the ship's personnel are in good health and we are discussing the matter with the pirates," the IRISL official told Reuters.

"They put forward their demands .. We are following the case," said the official, who asked not to be identified by name. "They (the pirates) called us ... when they anchored further down the coast (south) from the Eyl area," he added, referring to a former fishing outpost now used by gangs.

Some reports have said a ransom of $25 million has been demanded for a Saudi oil supertanker that has also been hijacked by Somali pirates, but the U.S. Navy and operators of the Saudi vessel have said they cannot confirm the reports.

Another IRISL ship, the bulk carrier Iran Deyanat, was hijacked by pirates on Aug. 21 and released on Oct. 10. The IRISL official declined to comment when asked if a ransom was paid to free that vessel.

IRISL said in October it had told its ships to string barbed wire on their decks and put crew on the alert for pirates when sailing in dangerous waters.

Lloyd's List reported the Delight was a 43,218 deadweight tonne vessel and was heading to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. Mohammad Mehdi Rasekh, an IRISL board member, told an Iranian news agency this week that IRISL would have to discuss any ransom payment with the Hong Kong owners of the ship.