Here's the report from EcoTerra on the episode:-
Emirati-owned MSV ASPHALT VENTURE steams off with only half the crewWhat serious analysts predicted since long in the Somali piracy circus are cases where the amateur negotiators and deliverers, who are often friends of friends in the insurance industry, create more difficulties than they solve with ill-conceived ransom drops and not at all planned, insecure release operations.
After a drop of a compared to other recent releases much smaller amount of a ransom today to the pirate gang on the vessel, the sea-shifta left but took with them seven hostages of Indian nationality.
Immediately followed by the usual news-hounds from the often in these very sensitive situations too fast media, different versions concerning the why the Somalis hold the seven Indians were circulated:
However, we want in the moment therefore only report that - according to our own monitors - the seven seamen are alive and are held around 30km outside of Harardheere and that in our opinion still all options are possible. The traditional Xeer system of legal understanding, widely accepted by the traditional population of Somalia, allows for different solutions to achieve justice in their understanding - some options, however, can be drastic.
Immediately when the pirate gang made for the land, the captain of MV ASPHALT VENTURE started the engines and steamed together with his remaining seven Indian crew off the Central Somali coast near Ceel Gaan, leaving the other seven seafarers to their unsecure fate at the hands of the Somalis.
But meanwhile also the vessel run into trouble, though no more pirates are on board, because the ship reportedly encountered problems and could not proceed in her voyage. Fuel or mechanical problems could be the cause.
If ransom couriers get arrested and briefly jailed like recently in Djibouti, where they then first had to buy themselves free with a hefty handshake and part of their own loot in the exercise, such is just a story for the round-tables of the security and risk-management companies but if a release operation is so shoddily planned and executed like it is obvious in this case, the families are advised to also seek legal redress from those responsible for such blunder.
MT ASPHALT VENTURE : Seized September 28, 2010. The Panama-flagged asphalt tanker MT ASPHALT VENTURE (IMO 8875798) was captured on her way from Mombasa - where the vessel left at noon on 27. September, southbound to Durban, at 20h06 UTC = 23h06 local time in position 07 09 S 40 59 E. The vessel was sailing in ballast and a second alarm was received at 00h58 UTC = 03h58 LT. The ship with its 15 all Indian crew was then observed to have turned around and is at present commandeered northwards to Somalia. EU NAVFOR confirmed the case only in the late afternoon of 29. September. Information from the ground says a pirate group from Brawa had captured the vessel and at first it was reported that the vessel was heading towards Harardheere at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast, while the tanker had first contact at the Somali coast near Hobyo and was then commandeered further north. The vessel is managed by ISM manager OMCI SHIPMANAGEMENT PVT LTD from Mumbai and owned by BITUMEN INVEST AS from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, who uses INTER GLOBAL SHIPPING LTD from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates as ship-handler. The Government of India and other authorities are informed. Concerning the condition of the crew so far no casualties or injuries are reported, but the vessel seems to have had an engine problem. Negotiations had commenced but have so far not been reaching anywhere. Vessel and crew were held off Kulub at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia, then had been transferred southwards to Ceel Gaan in the Harardheere area at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast with negotiations more stuck than smooth; and when the crew reportedly had no more food, clean water and diesel a hasty and ill-planned release against a ransom drop was enacted on 15. April 2011. While the vessel got away at least for some distance until it developed problems and couldn't continue, seven Indian crew were left behind on the beach, who continue to be held as hostages.