A German ship hijacked by Somali pirates off the Kenyan coast on Sunday has been released, the East Africa Coordinator of Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP) said, RIA Novosti reported.
The Beluga Fortune container ship, with a crew of between 12 and 16 according to various sources, was seized in the early hours of Sunday some 1,000 nautical miles to the west of the Kenyan port of Mombasa. The ship was reportedly heading from the United Arab Emirates to South Africa.
"The Beluga Fortune has been released, the pirates have left it," Andrew Mwangura told RIA Novosti, adding that none of the crewmembers was hurt during the release operation.
A spokesman for the Russian Sailors' Trade Union quoted the ship owner as saying there were three Russians on board the captured vessel. According to Mwangura, there is one Russian citizen and three Ukrainians among the ship's crew.
The ship owner, Beluga Shipping GmBH, said in a statement that the released vessel, which received minor damage as a result of the seizure, was heading to South Africa's Richards Bay.
The crew members were acting very rationally during the pirate attack, the statement said. They reportedly locked themselves in a specially equipped premise, shut off the main engine and reported the seizure to naval patrol services, which helped them avoid being taken hostage.
The company's head said that he was "very proud" of the ship's crew and that investments in security proved to have yielded results.
Since the start of the year, Somali pirates have hijacked 27 ships with a total of 544 crew members on board.
According to the London-based International Maritime Bureau, the number of pirate attacks worldwide decreased in the first half of 2010 by 34 percent year-on-year mostly due to the ongoing anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden.