The Ukrainian cargo ship released by Somali pirates last week will arrive in the Kenyan port of Mombasa on February 11, a Russian maritime news website editor said during a radio interview on Monday, RIA Novosti reported.

The Faina was hijacked off the Horn of Africa on September 25, 2008, and released on Thursday after the pirates received a $3.2 million ransom. 

"The cargo will arrive at its destination on the evening of February 11," Mikhail Voitenko of the Sovfracht Maritime Bulletin, who has been involved in negotiations for freeing the ship, said in a live radio interview on Russia's Vesti-FM. A U.S. military frigate, the Mason, is escorting the cargo ship to Kenya.

The crew of 17 Ukrainians, two Russians and one Latvian are all said to be in good health, but the body of the Russian captain, who died of a heart attack soon after the hijacking, will be sent home to St. Petersburg by the Russian Embassy in Nairobi.

Voitenko said the captain could have been saved, because for two weeks the ship's crew asked the Somali pirates to allow them to transfer Vladimir Kolobov to a U.S. ship in the area for medical treatment, but the hijackers refused.

"So Captain Kolobov's death is completely on their shoulders," Voitenko said. 

He also denied earlier there were reports in the Russian press that the ship owners were demanding $200 from each crewmember on board the Faina for telephone conversations with friends and family that were not connected with negotiations for the ship's release.

The pirates initially demanded a $35 million ransom for the vessel, which was carrying 33 T-72 tanks and other heavy weaponry to be delivered to Kenya.

According to the UN, Somali pirates carried out at least 120 attacks on ships in 2008, resulting in a yield of around $150 million. 

Around 20 warships from the navies of at least 10 countries, including Russia, are involved in anti-piracy operations off Somalia. The East African country, ravaged by years of civil war, has no functioning government.


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