November 17, 2008 / 8:17 PM / 10 years ago

FACTBOX-Hijacked tanker Sirius Star, one of world's newest

Nov 17 (Reuters) - Somali pirates captured a fully laden Saudi supertanker off east Africa, seizing the biggest vessel ever hijacked with a cargo of oil worth more than $100 million.

Here are some facts about the Sirius Star, one of the world’s newest and biggest oil tankers:

- Owned by Vela International Marine, state oil giant Saudi Aramco’s shipping arm, the 318,000 deadweight tons 330-metre Sirius Star is one of 19 supertankers in the Saudi fleet. It was launched in South Korea this March.

- With 25 crew from Croatia, Britain, the Philippines, Poland and Saudi Arabia, it is a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), and can carry up to two million barrels of crude oil.

- A new VLCC costs around $140-$150 million to purchase. Because of their massive draft and length they are unable to dock at many existing ports, requiring deep-water terminals, or facilities to discharge cargoes onto other small tankers at sea. Lieutenant Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet said: “It’s three times the size of an aircraft carrier.”

- The naming of the vessel in South Korea marked the first time that a Saudi woman had performed a Vela naming ceremony.

- The Liberian-registered Sirius Star had been heading for the United States via the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa, skirting the continent instead of heading through the Gulf of Aden and then the Suez Canal. (Writing by Stefano Ambrogi; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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