The Russian Defense Ministry says one of its warships has freed a Russian oil tanker that had been seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia.More here from the AP's Katherine Houreld:
Ministry spokesman Col. Alexei Kuznetsov says the pirates are being held aboard the tanker, called the Moscow University. He says there were no injuries among the 23 tanker crew members - all of whom are Russian - or the warship's sailors.
Russian special forces rappelled onto a disabled oil tanker taken over by Somali pirates, freeing 23 Russian sailors and arresting the pirates during a dawn raid Thursday, the commander of the EU Naval Force said.The raid against the Liberian-flagged ship Moscow University came 24 hours after pirates had taken the ship over and the crew locked itself in a safe room. The vessel is carrying 86,000 tons of crude oil worth about $50 million.
The special forces had been aboard the Russian anti-submarine destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov, which rushed to the scene after Wednesday's attack. The special forces boarded a helicopter and rappelled down to the Moscow University, Rear Adm. Jan Thornqvist, force commander of the EU Naval Force, told The Associated Press.
Shots were fired during the raid but no one was injured, Thornqvist said.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Alexei Kuznetsov said the pirates are being held aboard the tanker. Russian news agencies reported the death of one pirate during the raid, but Kuznetsov told AP that information was still being looked into.
The ship's owner, Novoship, said in a statement that the decision to free the ship was made knowing "that the crew was under safe cover inaccessible to the pirates and that the lives and health of the sailors was not threatened by anything."
Cmdr. John Harbour, a spokesman for the EU Naval Force, called the rescue "an excellent operation all around." He said the EU Naval Force had been working at a tactical level with the Russians, and that EU Naval Force personnel talked to the Russian crew by VHF radio. He said the EU had offered support to the Russians.Post on pirate capture of ship here.
UPDATE: MSC(HOA) report:
The Liberian hijacked tanker Moscow University, which was hijacked yesterday, has been dramatically freed by the Russian warship, the MARSHAL SHAPOSHNIKOV.
Yesterday morning the Liberian flagged (Russian operated) oil tanker, MOSCOW UNIVERSITY, was hijacked approximately 350 miles east of Socatra. It was reported that the crew had locked themselves into the “rudder compartment” and a Maritime Patrol aircraft made contact with the crew a few hours later to confirm that they were safe. A Russian warship, Marshal Shaposhikov, was reported to be heading at full speed towards the hijack position. EU Naval Forces in the area offered support to the Russian ship and EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol aircraft were put on alert to support any operation.
Early this morning, the Marshal Shaposhnikov arrived at the oil tanker Moscow University’s position and sent a helicopter to investigate. The helicopter was fired upon by the pirates holding the ship. The Russian warship, knowing the crew were locked down and safe, returned fire on the pirates. Eventually the pirates surrendered and a boarding team from the Marshal Shaposhnikov arrived onboard the Tanker, captured all the pirates and freed the crew. All the crew are safe and well.
Tanker photo by Frans Sanderse from Shipspotting.com and used in accord with the terms found there.