New Delhi: A total of 28 rescued Indian seafarers aboard MT Royal Grace and MT Smyrni, which were hijacked by Somalian pirates last year, are set to return to India today.
Some of the rescued Indian seafarers from merchant tanker MT Royal Grace are waiting for the arrival of a replacement crew before they can fly back to their families in India, said official sources Sunday.
The 17 Indian seafarers on board MT Royal Grace were in captivity since March 2, 2012, while 11 Indian seafarers on board MT Smyrni, a crude oil tanker, were in captivity since May 10 last year.
Smyrni was loaded with 135,000 MT of Azerbaijan crude oil of approximately $130 million market value, destined for refineries in Balikpapan, Indonesia.
Union Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan had announced last week that the two ships had been freed from pirates, following "coordinated actions of ministries of shipping, external affairs, defence, home affairs, Director General Shipping and other important agencies". He declined to reveal details.
MT Royal Grace reached Salalah port in Muscat on March 13 and MT Smyrni docked there the next day. Both the ships were received by officials of the Indian embassy in Oman.
Embassy officials arranged for doctors to conduct medical check-up and provide necessary assistance to those who needed it.
"A crew member of MT Royal Grace had to be hospitalised due his weak state of health. He has since recovered and is expected to return with most others," the source added.
All crew members were provided new clothing, toiletries and shoes by the embassy.
The seafarers also spoke with their family members.
"Passports where required, exit permits from Omani authorities and necessary ticketing arrangements have been made by the Embassy of India in Muscat."
"The return of these seafarers is a significant milestone in the war against piracy. We remain committed in our resolve and determination to get all of Indian hostages who are still held in captivity released -- that includes seven Indian nationals on MT Asphalt Venture and one on MV Al Bedo," the source said.