ATHENS - Somali pirates released a cargo ship and its crew yesterday after holding it hostage for nearly 10 months.
The vessel’s Greek managers declined to say whether a ransom had been paid, but they complained that the international community lacks the political will to effectively combat widespread piracy off the coast of the East African country. One seaman aboard the Panama-flagged Polar oil tanker died of a stroke three weeks after the ship was seized in the Indian Ocean on Oct. 30, 2010.
Paradise Navigation SA, based in Athens, said that the vessel was heading to a safe port and that the other 23 crew members were well.
“This was a long and extremely distressing hijack for all the families involved and those in the company trying to secure their release,’’ Paradise Navigation said in a statement.
It avoided saying whether a ransom had been paid, arguing that the company did not want to encourage “further unacceptable criminal acts of this kind,’’ or endanger other crews still being held by pirates. But such hijackings often end with million-dollar ransoms being paid.
“Owners and managers find it unacceptable that they were virtually left unaided to deal with these criminal acts on the high seas,’’ the company said. “It is a sad indictment of the international initiatives currently in place that they have proved ineffective in stopping piracy.’’
Paradise Navigation said that the amount of money that shipping companies are paying Somali pirates to release their hijacked vessels and hostages is rising rapidly each year and that countries must do more to stop such attacks.