By Philip Mwakio

A Mombasa-based firm has been contracted to clean and remove marine growth from MV Faina.

Marine experts told Standard on Sunday that the vessel’s long stay in the sea following pirate hijack led to massive growth of marine algae.

The crew alight from the vessel MV Faina after it docked at the Mombasa port.

"The algae reduce the speed of the vessel and leads to high fuel consumption," said Mr Hamid Haq, managing director of Under Water Engineering.

The firm has dispatched 12 divers to take pictures of the vessel’s bottom.

Offloading of the military cargo aboard the vessel was delayed again yesterday afternoon due to low water tide. The vessel could not be positioned properly for the offload if the tide is low. It is carrying 33 T72 tanks, rocket launchers and anti-aircraft guns.

Two senior military officers, a Colonel Kabugi (expert in tank artillery) and Brigadier Otieno from Defence headquarters, have been overseeing operations since the docking of the ship at the harbour.

Journalists were on Friday evening allowed to take pictures of the tanks by peeping through the vessel’s lower deck.

It has also emerged that the Somali pirates who hijacked the vessel vandalised accommodation cabins in the ship.

Pirates loot valuables

Mombasa Port International Transport Federation (ITF) Inspector Juma Khamis said in an interview that he had information that pirates took away valuable goods.

"They vandalised the cabins and defecated in the accommodation blocks. The vessel will have undergo a major facelift before it becomes habitable," he said.

And 17 crewmembers that had been released together with the ship left Mombasa for Europe on Friday to reunite with their families.

Another crew has already joined the ship ready for its next mission.

The body of the ship’s captain, who died soon after the hijack, is lying at a Mombasa hospital morgue but arrangements are under way to airlift it to Russia.

MV Faina military cargo Somali pirates