It took 56 days of tense negotiations to free the MV Biscaglia and its 28 crew members from the clutches of Somali pirates, shipping exec George Christodolou tells the Wall Street Journal. After the vessel was seized in the Gulf of Aden, Christodolou had to scramble to gain the pirates' trust, reduce their hefty ransom demand, and reassure the crew's frantic families.
Christodolou was aided in raising the undisclosed but substantial ransom by the chief of a rival firm whose vessel had also been seized. "Thank you very much. It's really been a pleasure to work with you on this project," the pirates' businesslike negotiator said, upon accepting the final offer. The pirates escaped after the $1 million-plus ransom was delivered by parachute, and the crew were reunited with their relieved families yesterday.