The car carrier VC Asian Glory, which was hijacked at the beginning of January by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, has now been released and escorted to Oman by the British military.
The release follows the payment of a ransom of unspecified amount though reports indicate that the pirates were demanding $15m, allegedly equal to the insurance of the ship and the value of the cargo.
The British-flagged vessel has been returned with its 25-man crew, all of who are reported to be safe. The entire cargo of 2,300 Hyundai and Kia vehicles, which were being transported to Saudi Arabia from Singapore when the vessel was hijacked, has also been returned intact.
Talking to Automotive Logistics News, Kia spokesman Michael Choo said, “All of the vehicles were returned safely and in good condition. Initial checks have shown no damage to any of the exteriors and ignition tests have revealed no problems.
“Nevertheless, more comprehensive examination of the vehicles will take place when the they reach their final destinations,” he added. “Obviously this is good news for Kia Motors.”
The 45,000-tonne Asian Glory, which is owned by Zodiac Maritime Agencies and was being operated by Eukor on a time charter basis, was hijacked 1,000km off the Somali coast on January 1st. The pirates used a previously hijacked Pakistan-flagged fishing vessel to mount the raid on the car carrier (read more here).
“The news of the release of Asian Glory is of course a big relief,” said Eukor spokesman Espen Hofland. “We are happy to hear that the crew is reported unharmed, and that the cargo is still onboard. We are also happy to have the vessel and her capacity back in trading.”
In an official statement Zodiac said it was unable to provide any further information on the release of the vessel because it “does not wish to jeopardise the safety of crew members on other vessels and crews that are still held by Somali Pirates in the area”.