Mumbai: The hijacked Japanese merchant ship released with 18 Indian sailors on board on Monday headed towards Mumbai and is being escorted by US-led coalition forces to safe waters from the danger zone in the Gulf of Aden.
With some of the crew members taking ill, the option of docking the ship in the nearest Gulf port and flying out the sailors who have gone through a 62-day ordeal is also being considered.
Somali pirates released the ship “MT Stolt Valor” in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday after a ransom amount between $1 million to $2.5 million was paid reportedly by the Japanese owners following negotiations.
The vessel, which was hjacked on 15 September, is currently cruising at a “low speed” and is expected to be in safe waters by Tuesday. It is expected to reach Mumbai in about four days.
There were reports that since the crew members had endured much over the past two months they would be flown to Mumbai from the Gulf and another crew will sail the ship home.
Dehradun-based Seema Goyal, wife of the ship’s master Capt. Prabhat Kumar Goyal, said the information she got from the crew was that the ship was short of fuel and was moving at “very low speed” and is expected to be out of troubled waters by Tuesday.
The crew is keen that the ship return to Mumbai, she said. Along with the Indian crew, two Filipinos, a Russian and Bangladeshi were also released.
The health of Indian sailors is “just okay”, Seema said, adding “Healthwise, they are not well,” she said.
Capt. Rangnekar of Ebony Shipping said coalition forces are overseeing the ship’s voyage from the danger zone to the safety corridor.