Remaining Arctic Sea crew back home

The last four sailors who remained on board the hijacked Arctic Sea vessel have returned to their home base in northern Russia.

The sailors are feeling good, the ship's captain Sergey Zaretsky said. "We are all very happy that they have finally returned home," he said.

The Arctic Sea was at the centre of a maritime mystery when it was allegedly hijacked in July en route from Finland to Algeria. It was found by the Russian Navy, and freed in mid-August by a Russian warship off the Cape Verde islands. Eleven crew and eight suspected pirates were flown to Moscow for questioning.

The captain and three other seamen – the senior mechanic, the second mechanic and the bosun – were forced to stay on board, despite a replacement crew being ready to take over.

The ship has been anchored for nearly two weeks in the Mediterranean Sea after being refused permission to dock in Malta. On October 29, the vessel was finally handed over to Malta, and the next day the remaining crew started their journey back to Russia.

Late on Monday the saga was finally over.