For Somali pirates, the ransom of $2.5 million was not enough. They also took away the personal belongings of all 22 crew members of MT Stolt Valor.
“We don’t mind that… They (pirates) did not harm the crew,” said Captain Unnikrishnan Panicker, father of Ulhas Krishna, second officer of Stolt Valor. He said the pirates took away a laptop his son recently purchased, and also emptied his wallet. “This is too small a price for his life.”
Panicker finally spoke to Ulhas at 1 pm on Monday. “All of them are fine and happy. They sound healthy as well,” he said.
Trainee cadet Santosh Patil also spoke to his parents, who have been frequenting the office of the Stolt Valor’s Mumbai agent ever since the news of the hijack came.
Mumbai-based Ebony Ship Management is an agent of Fleet Management Limited, Hong Kong, the technical advisors of Central Marine Company, a Japanese firm that owns the Stolt Valor.
The Somali pirates had hijacked Stolt Valor off the Gulf of Aden on September 15. The ship is expected to touch Mumbai on November 24. It will cross the danger zone only on Tuesday.
As the ship owners engaged in talks with pirates, the family members of the crew were counselled to deal with the trauma.
“Seven families were called to Mumbai where they were given counselling. We even sent counsellors to Delhi,” said Ashish Sinha, head, business development, Ebony Ship Management. A 24X7 helpline was also set up to be in constant touch with the families and apprise them of latest developments.