Somalia Hostages – Danish Family Free

Published 12 years ago, updated 5 years ago

As reported by Ecoterra International


Tuesday 6 September 2011

After an aircraft delivered the reduced ransom money for the ill-fated group of Danes taken hostage from sailing yacht “SY ING” by Somali pirates in February, Jan Quist Johansen, his wife Birgit Marie Johansen, their sons, Rune (17) and Hjalte (15), and daughter Naja (13), as well as their two crew employees, were this morning allowed to board a small skiff with outboard motor and drive the short distance of around two miles from the captured MV DOVER – where they were held hostage for most of their time in captivity – to a waiting naval vessel – local observers reported.

The Danish flagged yacht SY ING had been lost by the pirates during one of their recent manoeuvres with MV DOVER and was reportedly recovered by a navy.

For Jan Quist Johansen, his wife, their three children, and the two adult deckhands the ordeal is over, while two other sailors from South Africa are still held hostage in Southern Somalia.

BACKGROUND (ecop-marine)

The 7 Crew of SY ING were seized on February 24, 2011 – in position 14N and 58E, which is around 210 nm from Socotra Island (Yemen), 300 nm from Salalah (Oman) and around 480 nm off the nearest Somali coast at the very tip of the Horn of Africa. They were en route from the Makunudhoo Atol, Maldives, via Uligan to the Red Sea.

The crew had reported their cruise earlier to UKMTO, who had received a daily report with the heading and status of the yacht, which at one point even was overflown by a surveillance aircraft.

A duty officer at the Danish marine command headquarters, SOK, told AFP: “SOK received an SOS from the sailboat and began searching for the whereabouts of the ship and to determine what has happened to the crew.” Why the Danish government and the navies failed for four days to alert other cruising sailors in the area about the incident is not known. The Danish yacht was then commandeered towards Somalia. The group of hostages were taken around 20 km inland to a location called Hul Anod (Xuul Canood).

All the hostages were then held on sea-jacked MV DOVER, while SY ING was at first kept at the coast near Hurdiyo.

Shocking news, though not locally confirmed, was spread in a BBC Radio 4 report by Tom Mangold, broadcast mid-April 2011, in which the veteran reporter repeated the story that the pirates had offered to release the family if their 13-year-old daughter was allowed to marry a pirate chief.

Reports from local elders in May revealed that the situation was also tense because the Danish navy had attacked several pirated vessels over the last four weeks and created havoc along the coasts, though it brought little success.

It is obvious that the health situation of the captives had deteriorated seriously and analysts saw the slow negotiations – said to be conducted by an inexperienced security company – as rather sluggish.

Several confusing statements by a website reporting about Somalia about movements and conditions of the hostages turned out to be false and the 7 Danes were still kept hostage on MV DOVER. Local observers, however, reported that the pirate’s groups holding the Danes and the merchant’s vessel had been pressured again by local elders to end the hostage crisis. This time the pirates appeared to listen.

But then on 22. July 2011 the pirated tanker MT JUBBA XX was attacked off Bargaal by Puntland forces and MV Dover left the scene to avert a confrontation with the hostages on board. The vessel left the scene with SY ING in tow. A report (still unconfirmed) on 23. July 2011 then revealed that the towing cable in rough seas had snapped in position 11”43’7 N and 051”25’2 E and that the yacht was drifting northwards and had not been recovered by the pirates. MV DOVER returned to the coast, with the Danish hostage family of five and their two crew members still on board.

After the Danish negotiator and the negotiator for the pirates finally reached an agreement on the reduced ransom money, the release was effected on 06. September 2011 successfully.

This news, with ransom details, has also been reported by the BBC

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