A German-flagged ship and its crew was freed four months after the container vessel was seized by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.
A German-flagged ship and its crew was freed four months after the container vessel was seized by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The Hansa Stavanger is on its way to the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, the German Foreign Ministry said in an e-mailed statement, without saying whether a ransom was paid. The freighter has a 24-man crew, among them five German nationals including the captain, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur. The freighter, a 21,000 deadweight-ton vessel owned by Hamburg-based Leonhardt-Blumberg, was captured in early April about 400 miles (645 kilometers) from land between the Seychelles and Kenya, in an area where pirates hadn"t previously been active. The brigands demanded $4 million in ransom.
Ahmed Hassan, a pirate whose gang hijacked the ship, said in a July 30 phone interview that a ransom had already been agreed with the owners.
?We had previously agreed $3 million with the owners but due to some circumstances, mainly because we are so many and we have had the ship approximately four months, we decided to ask them to add an additional $1 million,? Hassan said.
Ransoms have tended to range from $500,000 to $2 million, the Congressional Research Service said in a February report. A sum of $3 million was paid for the Saudi oil tanker Sirius Star last year. The European Naval Force - Operation Atalanta, which is coordinating Europe"s naval response to the attacks, said on its Web site that the Hansa Stavanger has crew members from Germany, Russia, Ukraine and Philippines.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he heard of the release ?with great relief,? the ministry said in the statement. He wished the freed crew members and their families ?strength to get over the ordeal.?