President proud of task force`s success in rescuing sailors

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he was proud of the military task force`s success in rescuing the crew of MV Sinar Kudus from Somali pirates.

"On behalf of the state, the government and myself I express my gratitude and appreciation to soldiers, both officers and non-commissioned officers, for their success in performing state duties full of risks and uncertainties," he said when receiving the task force at the military seaborne command`s pier here on Sunday.

The President said he had watched the video showing how the Red and White Task Force and the Duta Samudra I/2011 Task Force rescued the crew of MV Sinar Kudus. The rescue operation was highly risky task because of weather and operation field, he said.

"I also watched on the video how a colonel or lieutenant colonel jumping down using sea riders to support the process of rescuing the crew of Sinar Kudus. As a matter of fact, the task could be done by a sergeant," he said.

The President said since he for the first time heard a report that MV Sinar Kudus was hijacked he had taken steps how to rescue its crew members. "No less than five cabinet meetings were held to discuss several options to free the ship and its crew members safely," he said.

To rescue the crew of MV Sinar Kudus held hostage by Somali pirates for 46 days since March 16, the government decided three options, namely rescuing 20 crew members, freeing the ship and taking action against the pirates, he said.

"The main duty of the task force was rescuing the 20 crew members. As we all know, quite a few rescue operations have claimed the lives of people. One of them was a United States citizen. Afterward, they had to free and bring home the ship. Tens of ships are currently being held by the pirates," he said.

After the crew and ship were freed the task force conducted military operations to chase the pirates. "If necessary, they could chase the pirates until the Somalian coastline because this was made possible by the international law," he said.

"We watched all the entire process (of rescue operations) on the video. Let us take a lesson from all of these particularly when it comes to logistic operation, diplomacy and task force. Once again I am proud of this," he said.

MV Sinar Kudus was hijacked by Somali pirates while en route to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, carrying approximately 200 tons of ferronickel.(*)