Hijacked sailor Paul Chandler warned a watching Royal Navy ship that he and his wife would be killed if marines tried to rescue them, new interviews reveal.
Mr Chandler radioed a plea to Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Wave Knight after he and wife Rachel were seized by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean last year.
Transcripts of conversations published in a newspaper show that the terrified couple begged several times for the ship not to intervene as they were bundled from their yacht Lynn Rival on to a pirate ship – starting their year-long kidnap ordeal.
Retired Mr and Mrs Chandler, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, were seized at gunpoint last October as they sailed from the Seychelles to Tanzania.
Four days after being captured, they were spotted by a helicopter from the EU’s anti-piracy taskforce – for which the Wave Knight was a supply vessel. This prompted the pirates to transfer the Chandlers to another of their seized ships nearby and the vessels dramatically converged off the coast of Somalia.
Mr Chandler’s trip logs reveal his radio conversation with a “totally calm and matter-of-fact” British naval officer went as follows: “Lynn Rival: EU warship – this is sailing yacht Lynn Rival. We are two British, one male, one female. We have been kidnapped. We are both well and unharmed. Please turn away or we will be killed.
“Wave Knight: Lynn Rival – understood. We are turning away now. We are turning away now. we confirm one male, one female unharmed. Are you directly threatened?
“Lynn Rival: Correct. Not threatened at present.”
Wave Knight then warned the pirates’ container ship to alter course, which prompted a flurry of calls from Lynn Rival. One said: “We are very frightened. We have been told we will be killed if you don’t stand off.” Another shortly after went: “Our captors said they will kill us if you don’t stand off. We are terrified!”
Wave Knight was left behind as the couple were to Somalia, and the Chandlers spent 388 days in captivity before being released two weeks ago. Days after they were seized, a controversy erupted after it emerged that Wave Knight had been within sight of their yacht. But military officials insisted that the crew could not have acted without endangering the couple’s lives.