Hijacked UAE oil tanker freed by Somali pirates

The owner of the Jubba XX says both vessel and crew have been released unharmed.

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DUBAI // A small oil tanker owned by a Sharjah firm has been released by Somali pirates without a ransom payment, after the Somali cargo owners pressed local tribal leaders and government officials to intervene.

The MV Jubba XX and its 16-man crew were seized on July 16 while carrying 3,500 tonnes of oil worth Dh17m to Berbera, Somalia.

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“The cargo owners put the matter in front of the tribes. I don’t know who they contacted and how,” said Omar Alkheir, whose Umm al Quwain-based Emirates Shipping Company manages the vessel.

He received the news from the ship owner, Jubba General Trading, on Wednesday and was able to contact the crew soon afterward.

Pirate ransoms average Dh18 million and take about seven months to negotiate, a Nato representative said earlier this year.

Mr Alkheir said the cargo owners, Red Sea Company, had first planned to reclaim the ship by force. The nine captors on board caught wind of this and increased their number to 40, the crew told him. They changed locations several times.

After two days Mr Alkheir said he convinced the cargo owners not to resort to violence, pointing out that the oil was flammable.

“I told him, don’t do that, because one bullet and it will make fire. And no one will come out with anything,” he said.

With so many pirates on board, food supplies ran low. The captors beat the four Somali sailors on board after accusing them of trying to call for help. They robbed the sailors of their mobile phones, watches, cash, and other possessions.

The crew are now bringing the MV Jubba XX to Bossaso, Somalia, to resupply, then to Berbera to unload the cargo.

"They are happy," Mr Alkheir said. "They don't believe it."