Eight Indian crew members of a cargo vessel released by Somali pirates April 15 will soon return home to their families, with the merchant ship reaching Kenya Thursday under an Indian warship escort.
Seven other Indian crew of the bitumen carrier Asphalt Venture are still being held hostage by the pirates, who were reportedly planning to get their 120 comrades in Indian prisons released in exchange. But the firm said it was making all efforts to obtain their release too.
“The vessel and crew had arrived at the port of Mombasa, Kenya, April 28, 2011,” the ship owners said in a statement from Mumbai.
After its release, the cargo vessel, in consultation Indian authorities, remained in Somali waters for some time in the hope that the seven crew members taken ashore as hostages would be returned.
Thereafter, with the engineering officers still in captivity and no engine power, the vessel proceeded slowly under tug tow and under escort of a Talwar-class Indian frigate out of Somali waters.
“To remain in these waters longer would have been dangerous for both the vessel and the remaining crew members,” the shipping firm said.
With the arrival of the vessel in Mombasa, the eight freed crew members would be sent home to their families, after their seven-month ordeal that began September last year.
“The owners and managers of the firm are now working in close cooperation with all the appropriate authorities to ensure the safe return of those (seven other crew members) still in captivity,” the firm said.
“Our thoughts are with the families of those who have not yet returned and we are making every effort to get them home at the earliest,” it added.
According to available figures, 53 Indian sailors are being held hostage on five different ships.
Of them, 17 have been held for the longest on MT Savina Caylyn, an Italian ship which was captured Feb 8, 2010.