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Tanker and crew freed after one year as hostages

Tanker and crew freed after one year as hostages
Dubai: The Royal Grace and its 20 crew have been released by Somali pirates after it was hijacked a year ago, EU Navfor reports.

The vessel was released following a ransom payment.

Early yesterday morning, EU Navfor flagship ESPS Méndez Núnez spotted Royal Grace moving away from the pirate anchorage off Somalia at a speed of four knots and shortly after received a radio call from the released ship's master confirming their release from pirate control and requesting assistance.

Two of the crew were given treatment when a medical team boarded the vessel to check the health of the seafarers and bring food and water.

The vessel was seized 2 March 2012 off of Oman and was the subject of talks to secure release of the vessel between the owners and pirates in April 2012.

Royal Grace is now making its way to Muscat, escorted by EU Navfor warship ESPS Rayo.

Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant, operation commander of the EU Naval Force commented "I am relieved that the crew of Royal Grace are now safe and on their way home. It has been an extremely worrying time for the men and their families."

The release of the Royal Grace leaves three ships under pirate control within the operating area of the US Maritime Liaison Office in Bahrain according to their figures from 8 March. Containership Albedo, hijacked 25 November 2012 with 21 crew on board, seven of whom were released after a $1.2m ransom payment in July 2012, fishing vessel Naham 3 and her 15 crew, hijacked 26 March 2012, and crude tanker Smyrni and her 26 crew, hijacked 10 May 2012.

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