NAIROBI, Kenya, February 06, 2009 — The U.S.
Navy gave fuel, food and water Friday to a Ukrainian arms ship off the
coast of Somalia, helping it get ready to leave the area after being
held hostage by pirates for more than four months.
The MV Faina, seized Sept. 25, was freed Thursday after pirates received
an airdropped ransom of $3.2 million. The pirates then left with the
cash, but the ship remained anchored at sea near the Somali coastal town
In addition, the U.S. Navy gave all Faina crew members medical
attention, said Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the
Bahrain-based 5th Fleet.
The navy has watched over the Faina since its capture to make sure the
cargo of 33 tanks and other heavy weapons did not fall into the hands of
Somali insurgents believed to be linked to al-Qaida.
Faina Captain Viktor Nikolsky told The Associated Press via satellite
phone on Friday that the ship would start traveling to Mombasa, Kenya,
on Saturday. He hoped to reach the port in three or four days.
"Engineering preparations are ongoing to get the vessel under way," said
Christensen, adding 12 U.S. sailors from USS Mason, a guided missile
destroyer, boarded the Faina on Friday morning to help.
"Also, the USS Catawba is providing the vessel with fuel," said
Christensen. "The crew is in good health but getting medical attention
they requested." He declined to elaborate.
Ukraine's top human rights official, Nina Karpachova, said Friday the
Faina crew has to test the engine to see whether the ship can sail under
its own power. She also said a U.S. Navy ship will accompany it to
There is still some dispute over who the actual owners of the weapons
cargo are. Diplomats in the region previously have said the cargo was
destined for southern Sudan, something the autonomous region has denied.
Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua this week repeated Kenya's
claim to the cargo.
Analysts said the seizure of the Faina and its cargo of weapons was a
wake-up call about the danger that piracy posed to one of the world's
most important shipping routes.
In response, warships from countries including the United States, India,
Britain, France, Germany, China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea all joined
an anti-piracy campaign, though attacks still continue.
Turkey's military said Friday it will dispatch a frigate to the Gulf of
Aden to join the fight against piracy.
Somalia does not have a coast guard or navy because it has not had a
functioning government since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad
Barre in 1991. They then turned on each other, reducing the Horn of
Africa nation to anarchy and chaos.
SOURCE: AP, Friday, February 06, 2009