Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

December 28, 2009 23:00 ET

HMCS Fredericton Renders Assistance to Freed Container Ship, MV Kota Wajar, Off the Somali Coast

SOMALI BASIN, INDIAN OCEAN--(Marketwire - Dec. 28, 2009) - Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Fredericton rendered assistance to the Motor Vessel (MV) KOTA WAJAR off the Somali coast this afternoon after almost two and a half months captive by Somali pirates.

At 1:13 p.m. local time (5:13 a.m. EST), HMCS Fredericton received information that the ransom for the MV KOTA WAJAR had been paid to the pirates onboard the ship and that it would be soon released from captivity. HMCS Fredericton, as the closest NATO or Coalition warship to the MV, was ordered to close the vessels position and render what medical and technical assistance she could to help the crew commence their journey away from their captors.

"It was very fortunate that we were in close proximity to the KOTA WAJAR and able to act as fast as we could to provide them assistance as they cleared Somali waters" said Commander Steve Waddell, Commanding Officer of HMCS Fredericton. "As my team prepared for the mission, it helped to understand the plight that this crew just endured and that we could offer just a little bit of humanity to them".

Once the Motor Vessel's Captain requested assistance, Fredericton's Naval Boarding Party assembled their experts, including a medical specialist, and headed towards the vessel. "We didn't know what to expect, whether there were remaining pirates onboard, what condition the crew was or how we would be perceived" indicated the Naval Boarding Party Officer. But we are trained for these scenarios and take every precaution to ensure the team's and the Motor Vessel's crew's safety."

Once onboard, the Naval Boarding Party conducted a security sweep and verified that all the pirates had left. The medical specialist then assessed all 21 crew members onboard and declared them in good health. With the vessel physically and technically able to sail to a safe port of call, the Naval Boarding Party provided the crew with fresh food and bottled water and departed the vessel.

Said Cmdr Waddell "If anyone ever needed a reason to understand why Fredericton is here, it was made clear today with this vessel - no law abiding sailor should ever have to endure what these men have endured."

Note to editors: HMCS Fredericton is deployed on a six-month mission to the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa to conduct counter piracy and counter terror operations alongside our NATO and Coalition partners. HMCS Fredericton's participation in Operation SAIPH (Sa-eef, meaning 'sword' in Arabic) represents Canada's ongoing contribution and commitment to international peace and security and confirms that Canada's Navy remains relevant, responsive and effective in the new security environment.

The MV KOTA WAJAR was used by Somali pirates as a mother ship which was involved in the hijacking and kidnapping of Paul and Rachel Chandler on October 23, 2009 and used to transport the couple to Somalia.

Contact Information