Muscat: The Panama flagged Egyptian merchant ship MV Suez has started sinking about 80miles off Oman's southern port of Salalah, Kutaiba Al Hatmy, Corporate Communications Manager at the Salalah Port Services, told Gulf News on Monday.
"The crew were transferred to Pakistan naval frigate PNS Babur before MV Suez began tilting," the Salalah Port Services official said.
He said that there was no further news from the owners of the shi, Red Sea Navigation Co, who seemed to have abandoned the 17,300 DWT vessel.
He informed that efforts to send a tug boat, Hasik, from Salalah did not work out after MV Suez, released by Somali pirates after ten-month in captivity, ran out of fuel on its way to the Omani port in the south.
All 22 crew abandoned MV Suez on Sunday evening and boarded the Pakistani naval frigate PNS Babur from where they were due to be picked by F-22P class frigate PNS Zulfiquar.
"All 22 crew will be brought to a port in Pakistan and then flown out to their respective home countries," Commodore Irfan-ul-Haq, Director-General for Public Relations with the Pakistan Navy, told Gulf News from Islamabad Monday morning.
He also said that PNS Zulfiquar was expected to reach by midday Monday. But subsequently, Commodore Irfan was not answering his mobile phone and did not reply to SMS messages too. Therefore the latest situation of the 22 crew that includes six Indians, four Pakistanis, one Sri Lankan and 11 Egyptian nationals was not known.
According to a maritime source it would have been ideal to bring the harassed and tired crew to Salalah and then flown out.
"These crew have gone through rough time for ten months and would have liked to be off ship as soon as they can, instead now they will sail for another two to three days to go to Pakistan before flying out to their respective countries," the source opined with a request of anonymity.
The mission of escorting the MV Suez to safety after being released by Somali pirates triggered war of words between sub-continental neighbours Pakistan and India as naval ships of these countries, patrolling the Gulf of Aden, reached out to MV Suez for safe escort.
Eventually, Pakistan naval frigate PNS Babur escorted the merchant vessel that was released after a payment of a $2.1 million ransom, which was arranged by Pakistani philanthropist Ansar Burney and his trust with the help of the ship management firm, family members of some of the hostages and some well-wishers.
The Egyptian-owned merchant vessel was taken over by armed Somali pirates in August last year, while taking a cargo of cement bags to Eritrea.