Mr. Mohamed said pirates are discussing how much ransom to demand for the Danish hostages, but pirates and investors backing this particular gang are angling for a large sum.
Reports varied as to how much a British sailing couple that was released in November after more than a year in captivity paid for their release, but it was believed to be about $1 million. Pirates are now commanding roughly $5 million for hijacked ships and crews.
In the blog, family members wrote they felt reassured as they saw overflights by counterpiracy patrol planes and had daily contact with naval authorities.
“It is reassuring that they look after us,” a Feb. 20 blog post said.
A day earlier, the family blogged they had drawn up “a piracy plan for who does what if we are attacked.” They were also sending daily position and status updates to the British Royal Navy’s U.K. Maritime Trade Operations, which acts as a liaison for ships traveling through waters threatened by pirates.
The Johansens had reported the position of their yacht daily via e-mail since Feb. 17, said Wing Cmdr. Paddy O'Kennedy, a spokesman for the European Union’s anti-piracy force.
Cmdr. O'Kennedy said the EU Naval Force had written an open letter to European governments, yachting organizations and magazines warning of the dangers of sailing through the area threatened by pirates.
“You are strongly advised not to do this. It is incredibly dangerous,” he said. “We did everything we possibly could to advise the yachting fraternity of the danger. … They (the family) were aware of the risks they were about to take.”
The EU and other warships do not provide escorts for individual ships, although they do patrol a maritime corridor that shipping is urged to stick to. Reporting a daily position, as the Johansens did, might give a warship a slightly quicker reaction time, but even that did not mean a ship under attack could be reached in time, he said.
“Even traveling in groups is not a protection for yachts. It’s just a bigger target for the pirates,” he said. “When you’re on a yacht, it can take seconds from when (the pirates) are seen to when they’re onboard.”
Denmark’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday advised citizens against traveling in sailboats in the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea and the northwestern Indian Ocean. Ministry officials said they had confirmed the Danish boat was seized by pirates and were doing “everything in our power” to help the Danes.
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