BERLIN – A gas tanker that was hijacked by Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa in January was released Saturday with all 13 crew members unharmed, a company that manages the vessel said.
The Longchamp was loaded with liquefied petroleum gas when it was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden on Jan. 29. It is registered in the Bahamas and managed by Hamburg-based Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement.
The company said the ship was released at about 0600 GMT (2 a.m. EDT) on Saturday. It had 12 Filipino crew members and an Indonesian second engineer on board.
Bernhard Schulte spokesman Cor Radings declined to comment on how the release was achieved.
A statement from the company said it "would like to thank the many parties, agencies and professionals involved for their outstanding efforts in achieving the safe release of the crew and vessel."
Radings declined to elaborate, and would not say what happened to the pirates.
The ship was en route from Norway to Vietnam when it was hijacked, and the company said it would now head toward its original destination.
The management company said that it was taken down Somalia's east coast after the hijacking.
Pirate attacks off the Somali coastline hit unprecedented levels in 2008, when pirates made 111 attacks and seized 42 vessels, mostly in the Gulf of Aden — one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.
Seven ships have been seized so far this year, although there were roughly 10 times as many attacks in January and February 2009 as there were over the same period last year. There have been almost daily attacks in March.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since clan-based militias overthrew a socialist dictator in 1991 and then turned on each other.