Monday, July 14, 2008
The German dry-cargo ship Lehmann Timber, bought out from Somali pirates several days ago, is in distress in the Arabian Sea off the Oman coast. The crew of 15, including Ukrainian seamen and Russian captain Valentin Bartashev, remain without foodstuffs and water. “The crew feel as before without food and drinking water; people are weak, but all are alive for the time being,” said chief mate Ardo Kalle by phone to the Vesti TV news channel. “The vessel is now drifting some 300 miles from the coast. The engine is broken; we cannot move from exhaustion and are waiting for assistance,” he explained. “There is a ship not far away, passing by our vessel. They intend to hand over a small package of food and water to us,” the chief mate noted. “We are waiting for help from a rescue ship which is to come at around 10.00 or 12.00 (Eds: local time),” he added. The ship that had been released from a pirate capture recently, ran into a strong gale. The main engine in the Lehmann Timber broke up, and the dry-cargo ship has been drifting for 24 hours in neutral waters.The situation is aggravated by the fact that the seamen have no drinking water and food; besides, the crew are very weak. The captain took a decision on Saturday evening to send a SOS signal. The vessel is 200 miles northeast of Socotra Island. A helicopter of coalition forces with a cargo of food, water and medicines is to fly to the ship late in the morning. The US Monson ship is to come to the vessel in distress in the near future. It is to evacuate the crew that includes, apart from the Russian and Ukrainians, an Estonian and nine Myanmar residents. The ship owner promised to dispatch a tugboat from the Oman port of Salalah. However, this is impossible to do now over the gale. The Lehmann Timber had been in captivity of Somali pirates for over 45 days since May 28. A ransom of over 700,000 US dollars was paid for the vessel on July 8, after which it was released.