Pirates flee German ship in Indian Ocean: company

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A German cargo vessel has been released one day after it was captured by pirates in the Indian Ocean, with no ransom paid, the company that chartered it said Monday.

The company, Beluga Shipping based in the northern city of Bremen, said the Beluga Fortune and its 16-member crew were set free with only minor damage to the ship and have resumed their voyage to South Africa.

"The crew of the MS Beluga Fortune reacted prudently with careful consideration of the necessary steps in the safety checklist," chief executive Niels Stolberg said in a statement.

"They made a distress call announcing the attack, hid in the purpose-built safe room, switched off the main engine, cut off the fuel supply, disabled the bridge and made a radio call to a reconnaissance military plane circling overhead."

It said the plane made contact with a warship which was able to manoeuvre into position next to the Beluga Fortune within a few hours after the attack "leaving the pirates no other choice than to give up their dream of millions in ransom money and flee".

The ship, which was seized early Sunday, was carrying heavy cargo from the United Arab Emirates to Richards Bay. The crew members are German, Russia and Filipino.

The company on Sunday had spoken of "Somali pirates" but on Monday made no mention of their suspected nationality.

Pirates at the weekend also seized a Greek-owned tanker with a German skipper in the Indian Ocean, European naval forces in Brussels said.

A flotilla of foreign navies has been patrolling off the Somali coast since 2008 to safeguard the crucial Gulf of Aden shipping lane that had nearly been overrun by rampaging pirates from the war-wracked country.

A German foreign ministry spokesman had said before the announcement of the Beluga Fortune's release that "the roots of piracy" must be addressed to stop attacks on foreign ships.

© 2010 AFP

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