After 18 days in captivity, 18 Indian seafarers, including a Mumbai-based shipping officer, who had been abducted from a crude oil tanker off Nigeria earlier this month, were released on Saturday.
Details about the terms of release or whether ransom was paid has not been provided to the media. The seafarers, 18 of whom are Indians and one is Turkish, are undergoing medical tests and debriefing, following which they will return to their families. As some of the seafarers are sick, it may take some time before they return to home, sources said.
On December 3, crude oil tanker Nave Constellation, with 26 crew members, was attacked by armed Niger Delta pirates while en route from Bonny Offshore Terminal to India. The vessel was in full load with minimum freeboard.
Sources said 19 seafarers were taken off the vessel and were held captive at another location. Seven seamen remained on board and were instructed to take the crude oil tanker to a safe position and await the arrival of a security vessel and other support staff.
It was learnt that the location where the 19 kidnapped seafarers were kept was in poor condition, which could have resulted in some of them taking sick.
A joint statement issued by the owners of Nave Constellation, Navios Maritime Acquisition Corporation, and the managers, Anglo-Eastern Tanker Management (Hong Kong), said: “Since the attack, the prime concern has been the safety, well-being and early return of the seafarers. On December 21, all of those taken were released and are now safe and undergoing medical tests and debriefing, following which they will return to their loved ones at home. Thanks to the government agencies, authorities, maritime institutions and specialists who have all done so much in securing the release of our seafarers. No operational details of the kidnap or release will be provided in order not to jeopardise the safety of seafarers still being held elsewhere or to encourage future criminal events and seizures.”