Japanese tanker MV Chemstar Venus freed by Somali pirates

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

MV Chemstar Venus, a chemical tanker flagged in Panama and owned by a Japanese firm, has been freed by pirates in Somalia. The vessel has a crew of 23 and a cargo of chemicals that has not been identified.

The ship was seized on November 15 and has a crew of five South Koreans and eighteen Filipinos. She was released Thursday, with the news announced Friday by an anonymous diplomat in Nairobi, Kenya. It is unclear if a ransom was paid.

There has recently been a sharp rise in pirate attacks after a lull in January, thought to be a result of a combination of stormy weather finally subsiding and pirates seeking to replenish their stock of captive vessels after seven recent releases. Six ships were attacked across Wednesday and Thursday.

A Russian battlecruiser named after Peter the Great detained ten suspected pirates who were moving in on a fishing trawler registered in Iran. They seized drugs, rifles and a large amount of cash and military prosecutors are now interviewing the men.