The Officers and crew of the Panama registered chemical tanker, Royal Grace, which was hijacked by Somali pirates almost exactly one year ago, have been released from their terrible ordeal. It is believed that an undisclosed sum was paid in ransom to the criminal gang which has been holding them since 2nd March 2012.

The hostage group included nineteen Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi seafarers and three Nigerians.

Further details are awaited.

This development reduces the number of hostages still incarcerated in Somalia waters to just over one hundred; sixteen on the M/V Albedo, which was hijacked more than two years ago, twenty-six on M/S Symri, held since May last year and it is believed that the crews of three dhows and three fishing vessels are also being held against their will by Somali gangs.

Commenting on the release, a spokesperson for the anti-piracy advocacy group www.saveourseafarers.com said, 'The release of these captive seafarers is to be celebrated after such an appalling length of illegal and inhuman captivity. We fervently hope that the other hostages will follow them to freedom very soon.

'Although there has been a dramatic fall in the incidences of pirate attack in recent months, this event serves to remind us that Somali pirates are still actively pursuing their evil trade. Ships using the affected routes should not drop their guard for a moment.

'These releases will come as no comfort to those still being held. This iniquitous criminality has to stop!

'Remaining vigilant and prepared for pirate attacks is costing the world economy billions of pounds'.

Source: Save Our Seafarers