Shiver me timbers! Pirates hijacked
a Saudi tanker loaded with $100 million worth of oil. The Sirius Star, a very large crude carrier (VLCC), was captured Nov. 15 about 450 miles southeast of the Kenyan coast and is now anchored off Somalia, the modern-day pirates lair. Shipowner Vela International
, a subsidiary of Aramco
, the world's largest oil company, says it believes the crew of 25 is safe. This is the latest incident in a growing crisis.
Piracy off Somali has doubled
in 2008. NATO, which is now patrolling the Gulf of Aden, has counted 88 attacks
. Of those, 10 ships
, including the Sirius Star, were hijacked in the past week.
You can track the growing crisis here
. The U.S. Navy has collected good photos of the pirates in action here
The surge in attacks is a sign of desperation.
On Nov. 11, British and Russian warships rescued
the Danish cargo ship Powerful from an attack by armed gunman aboard a Yemeni-registered dhow.
In September, Somali pirates calling themselves the Central Region Coast Guard hijacked the Ukrainian freighter Faina carrying tanks, grenade launchers and guns and demanded $20 million cash. These Somali pirates have their own spokesman
The pirates say they want money to buy food. Drought-stricken Somalia is being pushed to the brink of famine. UNICEF reported in August
that half the country's population -- 3.6 million people -- will soon be totally dependent on food aid.
Says UNICEF's Somalia representative: “We have never been in a situation so severe. Never, ever before."