NAIROBI, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Somali pirates have freed Greek oil tanker with 26 crew members onboard after ten months of captivity, the vessel's owners confirmed on Tuesday.
Dynacom Tankers Management said in a statement that the vessel, MT. Smyrni which was hijacked in Arabian Sea in May 2012 off 56 the Gulf Arab state of Oman was released on Monday.
"We are very pleased to report that the MT Smyrni has been released after ten months in the captivity of Somali pirates. All of the crew are safe and well and the vessel is proceeding to a port of refuge," the company said in a statement to Xinhua on Tuesday.
The Liberian-based flagged Smyrni, operated by a Greek company, was carrying 135,000 tonnes of oil and said to have been taken to Somalia.
The vessel has a crew of 26 of mixed nationalities who were all taken hostage in the attack and sources said there was no security guards aboard the tanker when it was attacked by pirates.
The seizure of Smyrni took place on its second voyage and marked the first successful hijacking of an oil tanker off the Omani coast since February 2011.
"We would like to take this opportunity to thank the crew, their families, our employees and those agencies that have provided support through this long ordeal. We do not expect to make any further statements on this matter," Dynacom Tankers Management said.
Piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden reduced drastically in 2012 as only 75 incidents including 14 hijackings were attributed to Somali pirates who continue to threaten an extended geographical region, according to a global maritime watchdog.
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said in a global piracy report that only five attacks were reported in the last quarter of 2012, adding that the number of Somali hijackings was halved from 28 in 2011 to 14 last year.
The maritime watchdog said the drop is likely due to the increased active military action on suspected skiffs, military land based anti-piracy operations, preventive measures and increased use of armed guards on board ships as well as the monsoon season.
According to the report, only two crew have been killed, 250 taken hostage and one injured. The East and South Coast of Somalia including the Arabian Sea recorded 49 attacks including nine attacks in the Gulf of Oman region, with 13 attacks having been reported in the Gulf of Aden and the Southern Red Sea.
Most of the attacks involve the use of weapons which is a cause of great concern to the merchant navy fleet as it poses a serious threat not only to injury and death of seafarers but also to the ship, cargo and environment.