The capture was seen as a dramatic demonstration of the pirates' ability to strike high value targets hundreds of miles offshore.
On the same day the Saudi ship was freed, pirates released a captured Iranian-chartered cargo ship, Iran's state television reported Saturday. It said the ship Daylight was carrying 36 tons of wheat when it was attacked in the Gulf of Aden Nov. 18 and seized by pirates. All 25 crew are in good health and the vessel is sailing toward Iran, the TV report said.
The U.S. Navy announced this week it will head a new anti-piracy taskforce after more than 100 ships were attacked last year.
NATO and the European Union already have warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden and have intervened to prevent several ships from being captured.
More than a dozen ships with about 300 crew members are still being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia, including the weapons-laden Ukrainian cargo ship MV Faina, which was seized in September.
The multimillion dollar ransoms are one of the few ways to earn a living in the impoverished, war-ravaged country. Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991 and nearly half of its population depends on aid.