They spent 64 days in captivity, but that hasn’t marred their zest for adventure. Five of the 18 Indian crewmembers of the hijacked merchant vessel Stolt Valor, who arrived in Mumbai on Monday, said they don’t mind sailing the notorious African waters again.
Stolt Valor was passing through the Gulf of Aden when Somali pirates intercepted it and took the 22-member crew hostage on September 15. They were released 12 hours after the ransom was given, two months after capture.
The sailors, welcomed by their family members at the airport, said they are confident now that the Indian Navy is
patrolling the area. “Our navy has sunk a pirate vessel and I have faith in them,” said 20-year-old Naveed Burondkar, the youngest crewmember on Stolt Valor. “I will go for assignments but after the (customary) six-month break. I want to spend time with my family,” said the sailor.
Isrdore Fernandes (29) and Allister Fernandes (25), Burondkar’s colleagues who are headed for their homes in Goa, agreed. “We won’t meet the same fate in the future,” they said.
Confined to a small space, under watch all the time, the experience was traumatic for the sailors who served their captors as cooks and cleaners. “But not for a moment did we think we won’t make it,” Burondkar said.
Isrdore is able to joke about the experience. “I cooked for the pirates for nine days. Obviously, I didn’t cook good food so they got their own cook,” he laughed.
The rest of the crew, including Captain Prakash Goyal, will arrive in Delhi on Tuesday.