(image via Tugster)
Somali pirates have released a Nigerian tugboat they hijacked 10 months ago and a Dutch navy ship is escorting it to a safe harbor, the Dutch Defense Ministry said Sunday.
Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Robin Middel said Dutch ship The Seven Provinces is alongside the Yenegoa Ocean and medical staff are tending to its crew.
The tug was having engine trouble, so it was unclear when it would reach port, Middel said.
Middel said the tug's Nigerian crew members are exhausted after 10 months in captivity but have no major health problems.
"Everyone is all right," he said.
Dutch marines boarded the tug Saturday after getting news of its release. The Defense Ministry did not say if a ransom was paid.
It was captured Aug. 4, 2008, as it returned from repairs in Singapore.
The Dutch ship is part of a NATO flotilla guarding the pirate-infested waters in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia's coast. The gulf is one of the world's most important shipping lanes, crossed by 20,000 ships a year, and a prime target for Somali pirates.