A German ship, the Hansa Stavanger, freed by Somali pirates earlier this week, was escorted by European Union (EU) vessels towards Mombassa port in Kenya on Wednesday (August 5).
The 20,000-ton German container vessel was captured about 400 miles off the southern Somali port of Kismayu on April 4 with 14 Filipinos, five Germans, three Russians and two Ukrainians on board.
However, the pirates said on Monday that they had received a 2.7 million U.S. dollar ransom for the release of the ship.
The European Union Naval Force patrolling the perilous shipping lanes off Somalia said its ships were escorting the Hansa Stavanger.
The EU agreed last month to extend its anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia - codenamed Atalanta - until the end of next year and to expand its area of operations. The mission, which was launched last December and was originally planned to last 12 months, will now run until the end of 2010. It has involved more than a dozen vessels and several maritime patrol aircraft.
Gangs of Somali pirates in the shipping lanes linking Asia and Europe have made millions of dollars in ransom payments from ships hijacked in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.
Foreign navies patrolling the waters off Somalia have been unable to stem attacks on merchant ships and are overstretched given the vast expanses of seas they have to cover.
Poor weather has hampered pirate attacks of late giving the nearly 20,000 ships that pass through the Gulf of Aden each year a temporary reprieve. But the monsoon season lull broke last week with a flurry of attacks.
The Hansa Stavanger is due to arrive in port on Friday (August 7).
as of 08/07/2009 1:40 AM