Hijacked Taiwan fishing boat 'Win Far 161' escorted home

Updated: 08 Mar 2010
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Kaohsiung - "Win Far 161, we are getting close," the captain of a vessel from the Chinese mainland spoke via aerophone to the crew on a Taiwan ship.

The mainland vessel was picking up the Taiwan fishing boat which was just released after being held hostage by Somali pirates for ten months.

"I was thrilled hearing that voice," said Yan Sheng-nan Sunday in an interview back in Taiwan. He is the captain of Win Far 161, a fishery boat of Win Far Fishery Group of Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Yan said that the captain of the mainland vessel had asked one of his crew from Fujian province to speak to them, because many people in Fujian speak the same dialect as Taiwan people.
Then, the released fishing boat started its journey home, convoyed by the mainland's vessel, and a helicopter soaring overhead.

Win Far 161 was released on February 11, with empty fuel tank filled with diesels lasting less than 3 days, all communication facilities smashed, and its crew robbed.

Besides, during the 10 months of hostage, one sailor from the Chinese mainland and one from Indonesia died of illness. "There's nothing we could do but watch them die," said Yan.

Yan Sheng-nan said, after the pick-up, the mainland's vessel refueled Win Far 161, and sent pork, chicken, vegetables and fruits, peppers and sauces to them.

"The mainland captain asked me whether we need doctors or psychologists, and I told he as we were going home, everybody was already cheered up," said Yan.

"The ship was released 3 days before the Chinese lunar new year, and the mainland's vessel sent two boxes of Chinese Tsingtao beer to us," said Yan, "And we waved back to express our gratitude."

On April 6, Win Far 161 was hijacked by Somali pirates while fishing in Seychelles sea area. Aboard is a crew consisting of two from Taiwan, five from the Chinese mainland, 6 Indonesians and 17 Filipinos.

Soon after the kidnap, Win Far Group started rescue work, and hammered out a deal with kidnappers in February. Liu Ming-fu, the manager of Win Far Group said, "At that time we were still afraid the ship could be hijacked again on their way back."

So, Win Far appealed for escort. They asked several countries which had missions in the Aden Gulf, but were turned down invariably.

Then the company resorted to China Shipowner Association (CSA) for help. "They immediately gave us an affirmative answer," said Hsieh Long-yan, the president of Win Far Group.

"I want to offer my heart-felt thanks to the mainland vessel, and to China Shipowner's Association for arranging the escort for us in such a short time," said Liu Ming-fu. "We'll never forget their generous help."

On February 20, the Chinese mainland's vessel convoyed the fishing boat all the way back to the open seas of Sri Lanka after 9 days of sailing.

"The mainland captain gave me several packs of cigarettes which he bought from his hometown, when we bid farewell," said Yan Sheng-nan. 
SOURCE: China Daily
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