Please select your home edition
Edition
SailX 728x90

Released hostage sailors' regrets - first interview

by Nancy Knudsen on 28 Oct 2011
Johansen family and crew, before their kidnap by pirates .. .
A Danish family who were held hostage by Somali pirates for more than six months said in an interview they gave to a Danish newspaper this week that they decided to sail alone through the dangerous waters off the Horn of Africa, hoping to sneak through safely.

The parents, Jan Quist Johansen, his wife Birgit Marie, their teenagers, Rune, Hjalte and Naja and two other crew were kidnapped on Feb. 24 after their yacht ING was seized by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.

Jan Quist Johansen added that he wished they had never sailed into the pirate-infested waters off the Horn of Africa. 'It was the decision of my life that I regret the most,' he said in the first interview since the family's release.

In the beginning the kidnappers demanded $5 million for the release of the family. After being seized the captives were taken to the village of Hul-Anod in the self-proclaimed autonomous region of Puntland in the northeast of Somalia.

Government troops tried unsuccessfully to free them on March 10, and they were taken back to their yacht and then transferred to the pirates' mother ship, a Greek vessel captured earlier.

They were then anchored at Gumbah, Bari, in the Baargal region where it was apparently easier to avoid government forces.

The family had left Denmark in August 2009 to sail round the world, planning to return at the end of this year. Two companions accompanied them.

They had made the decision to sail through the pirate zone alone and not in a convoy with other yachts, hoping the vastness of the sea would help protect them.

The Danes traveled without lights and any electronic equipment that would make them visible. They kept radio silence and also deliberately gave wrong information about their position on the Internet.

In the interview they explained why they chose to 'go it alone': 'A convoy is a smorgasbord for the pirates. They are both fearless and have no scruples,' his wife, Marie Quist Johansen, was quoted by the Politiken Daily, to whom they gave the interview, as saying. 'They can start shooting at the first (boat) to show that they are serious, and take all they can handle.'

But seven days after leaving the Maldives for Oman, a fishing boat with five pirates armed with AK-47 assault rifles abruptly ended their idyllic round-the-world journey.

The family immediately sent out an SOS that it was under attack, hid its GPS and threw an emergency position-indicating radio beacon into the ocean. The family's emergency calls were heard, but too late, its members said.

Marie told the newspaper they 'cried and were afraid many times' but their Somali captors never hit them. They also were able to stay together during the ordeal that ended on Sept. 6.

'They are only interested in money and if they don't get it fast enough, something bad would have happened to us,' the Jan told Politiken.

Danish officials have refused to comment on whether a ransom was paid, and the family didn't tell Politiken if any money were involved in their release.

Southern Spars - 100Schaefer 2016 Ratchet Block 660x82T Clewring Cruising

Related Articles

BIC Techno 293 One design class - 2014 Season highlights video
Another successful year for BIC Techno 293 One design class. Season highlights video here. BIC Techno 293 One design class 2014 - 100s of competitions from all continents, 1000s of participants around the world. Lot of fun, new adventures, new places, new friends. Another successful year for BIC Techno 293 One design class. Season highlights video here.
Posted on 1 Jan 2015
Pirate attack on EU NAVFOR flag ship - suddenly sorry
In the first light pirates were surprised when their target ship fired back - it was the EU NAVFOR flagship ESPS Patino The fact that it occurred at first light must be the excuse for a skiff full of suspected pirates who opened fire and commenced boarding a target ship this week. What a surprise when the 'target' fired back and launched a helicopter. As the light increased they learned why. Rather than a commercial ship which they could have hijacked, it was the flagship of EU NAVFOR itself, the ESPS Patino.
Posted on 13 Jan 2012
Kidnapped Chandlers released by Somali pirates
Somali pirates released British sailors Paul and Rachel Chandler today after holding them hostage for more than a year. Somali pirates have released British cruising sailors Paul and Rachel Chandler today (Sunday) after holding them hostage for more than a year. Somali pirates kidnapped the retired couple on Oct. 23 last year - 388 days ago - after hijacking their 38-foot yacht Lynn Rival in the Indian Ocean off Seychelles.
Posted on 14 Nov 2010
Mystery surrounds piracy report in Gulf
Contradictory reports have been received about a reported pirate attack on the US flagged boat, Tir Na Nog Contradictory reports have been received about a reported pirate attack on the US flagged boat, Tir Na Nog, a Cheoy Lee Ketch, with three female crewmembers. The first reports were that the Italian Coastguard reported that a U.S.-flagged yacht with three people abroad, had been attacked by pirates wielding rocket launchers off the coast of Yemen after an Italian freight ship reported a distress call.
Posted on 17 Apr 2006
World’s Smartest Pirates
Story of pirates who ran afoul of two large and heavily armed US warships off the coast of Somalia There is an old saw in street fighting, never bring a knife to a gun fight. And so it was with a particular group of rather poorly educated pirates who ran afoul of two large and heavily armed US warships off the coast of Somalia…
Posted on 30 Mar 2006
U.S. Navy Ships Return Fire on Suspected Pirates
USS Cape St. George and USS Gonzalez returned fire on a group of suspected pirates in the Indian Ocean on Saturday ABOARD USS CAPE ST. GEORGE, At sea (NNS) -- USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) returned fire on a group of suspected pirates in the Indian Ocean, killing one and wounding five, approximately 25 nautical miles off the central eastern coast of Somalia in international waters at 5:40 a.m. local time, March 18.
Posted on 23 Mar 2006
Yachts for Pirate Zone ‘better organised'
Yachties believe they are better organised this year in going through the pirate zone in the Gulf of Aden Last night when I asked David Ross, a single-hander, in the Oasis Club in Oman, how his trip round the world was going, his reply went instantly to the question of pirates.
Posted on 9 Mar 2006
US Navy Arrests Pirates - Hope for Sailors?
The presence of a more active US Navy and a new Somali contract for security -less danger for cruising sailors? The presence of a more active US Navy and a new Somali contract for security could mean less danger for cruising sailors on their way through the Gulf of Aden this year.
Posted on 26 Jan 2006