March 18, 2008
Somali hijackers release Svitzer Korsakov
Svitzer A/S today confirmed that the Master and crew on board the ice class tug SVITZER KORSAKOV, <held off the northeast coast of Somalia by hijackers since February 1, have assumed command of the vessel and will be proceeding towards the Gulf with a military escort. Release of the tug was achieved at approx 7.27 hrs (UTC) on March 18.
All crew members are well and unharmed.
Families of the four Russian Svitzer crew members, the Irish Chief Engineer and British Master have all been informed.
Svitzer said it would like to thank the many parties, agencies and professionals involved for their outstanding efforts in achieving the release of the crew and tug.
"Above all," said a statement issued today, "Svitzer wishes to thank and acknowledge the courage, leadership and strength shown by the Master and crew members on board the tug during their ordeal. We ask that privacy is shown to the men and their families in order that they may enjoy their reunion."
When the tug was hijacked around noon on February 1, the vessel was some 60 nm north of the Cape of Caluula, in the Gulf of Aden on the northern coast of Somalia, it was on the prescribed passage plan agreed with the Master, en route from St. Petersburg to Sakhalin Island between the north west coast of Japan and Russia. Following capture the tug was then taken down the east coast of Somalia and held offshore close to the town of Eyl.
"As there have been a growing number of attacks on merchant ships over the past two years and also an increase in the incidence of violent attacks," says the statement, "Svitzer believes it would be irresponsible and imprudent to provide any details of the on-going dialogue with the hijackers over the course of this incident, or to release any details of the operational issues involved. Any such details provided in the public domain would, we believe, encourage would-be pirates and add further danger to the victims of such attacks.We hope and trust that the national and international media will respect this point of view."