Military Sealift Command Public Affairs
For more information, contact:
Laura Seal (202) 685-5055
February 20, 2009
Catawba assists ship released by pirates off Somalia
From Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet Public Affairs
|Click on the image for a high-resolution photo.|
|The U.S. Navy fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba (T-ATF 168) provides fuel and fresh water to Motor Vessel Faina following its release by Somali pirates Feb. 5 after holding it for more than four months. The U.S. Navy has remained within visual range of the ship and maintained a 24-hour, 7-days a week presence since it was captured. The Belize-flagged cargo ship is owned and operated by "Kaalbye Shipping Ukraine" and is carrying a cargo of Ukrainian T-72 tanks and related equipment. The ship was attacked on Sept. 25 and forced to proceed to anchorage off the Somali Coast. U.S. 5th Fleet conducts maritime security operations to promote stability and regional economic prosperity. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael R. McCormick/Released)|
After pirates released Ukrainian cargo ship MV Faina Feb. 5, Military Sealift Command provided support to the merchant vessel and its crew.
Fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba, which had been in the area monitoring Faina while under pirate's control, supplied the merchant vessel with fuel and fresh water.
"We were thrilled when Faina was released and we were finally able to take action to provide constructive practical assistance, but it wasn't until boarding her that we learned how important our presence had been to the morale and well being of Capt. [Viktor] Nikolsky and his crew," said Capt. Charles Rodriguez, Catawba's civil service master. "It was very satisfying to all on board Catawba to know that we had made a difference in the outcome of these events and the impact on the lives of our fellow seamen."
Somali pirates released Faina after holding it for more than four months. The U.S. Navy has remained within visual range of the ship and maintained a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week presence since it was captured.
Faina was attacked off the coast of Somalia Sept. 25. The roll-on/roll-off ship is Belize flagged and operated by "Kaalbye Shipping Ukraine."
While the ship initially had a crew of 18, the ship's captain reportedly suffered a heart-attack shortly after being taken hostage. The pirates refused all requests to turn over the captain's remains. The ship's remaining crew of 17 includes Ukrainian citizens, as well as Russians and a Latvian.
Military Sealift Command operates approximately 110 noncombatant, merchant mariner-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.
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