The 22 crew members of the Merchant Vessel (MV) Suez - including four Pakistanis - who were released by Somali pirates have boarded PNS Zulfiqar for the remainder of their trip back home.
PNS Zulfiqar anchored temporarily in the Gulf of Aden due to high tide in the ocean. It was scheduled to continue its journey back once the ocean settles. The ship is expected to dock on Thursday.
The MV Suez sank into the sea after it encountered technical problems due to strong winds and rough seas on its way to the Salalah port in Oman. The tugboat towing the ship also broke down Monday night. However, the sailors were rescued before their ship could sink and were shifted on board the PNS Zulfiqar, which was dispatched by the Pakistan Navy to ferry the sailors back.
Naval chief Admiral Noman Bashir called on Prime Minister Gilani and briefed him about the rescue operation.
The crew of MV Suez includes 11 Egyptians, six Indians, four Pakistanis and one Sri Lankan.
The MV Suez, owned by an Egyptian company, had been first boarded by Somali pirates in August last year. Its crew of 22 was finally released on June 14, after payment of $2.1 million.
The operation, codenamed Operation Umeed-e-Nau, was executed in two stages. In the first stage, launched on June 16, PNS Babar commenced humanitarian assistance to MV Suez, which included the transfer of a special operations force and medical teams along with medical supplies and food provisions.
Pirate boats attempted to hijack the MV Suez again but were thwarted by PNS Babar as warning shots were fired.
During the operation’s second stage, master of the vessel, considering all options, requested Pakistan Navy for evacuation of the crew on humanitarian grounds.
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