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Marine Log

October 30, 2007

North Korean crew overpowers hijackers

The Voice of America reports that the crew of a North Korean ship seized off the coast of Somalia (see earlier report) have successfully overpowerd their captors

The VOA report quotes Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Program as saying the captors were not pirates, but the security guards hired by the local agents of the ship.

Read the VOA report.

A subsequent report from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, Bahrain identifies the North Korean cargo vessel as the Dai Hong Dan, and says the crew was able to control the steering and engineering spaces of the ship, while the pirates had seized the bridge. The ship is approximately 60 nautical miles northeast of Mogadishu.

Three corpsmen from USS James E. Williams (DDG 95), an Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer operating as part of the maritime coalition, along with a boarding team, provided medical assistance and other support as needed to the crew of the Korean vessel.

Three seriously injured crew members have been transferred to the James E. Williams for treatment. Initial reports from the crew are that five pirates were captured and two are dead. The pirates remain aboard the Dai Hong Dan.

The Combined Maritime Forces Headquarters, based in Bahrain, received a call from the International Maritime Bureau, located in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Tuesday morning, providing the current status of the Dai Hong Dan. At that time, the James E. Williams was about 50 nautical miles from the vessel and sent a helicopter to investigate the situation. James E. Williams arrived in the vicinity of the Korean ship midday local time and contacted the pirates via bridge-to-bridge radio, ordering them to give up their weapons.

At that point, the Korean crew confronted the pirates and regained control of the ship, and then began communicating with the James. E. Williams, requesting medical assistance. The crew said the pirates had been in control of the bridge, but the crew had retained control of the steering and engineering spaces.

Piracy is an ongoing maritime security and safety issue off the coast of Somalia. The Japanese vessel Golden Nori was pirated in the Gulf of Aden earlier this week, and Coalition ships responded to distress calls. Coalition ships continue to closely monitor the vessel. Four other vessels remain under pirate control off the coast of southern Somalia.

The waters off Somalia and the Horn of Africa are part of the area under the responsibility of CTF 150, one of three task forces under Coalition Maritime Forces, based in Manama, Bahrain.

A key mission of Combined Maritime Forces is conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO), which help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment and complement the counterterrorism and security efforts in regional nations' littoral waters. Coalition forces also conduct MSO under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely in the region.

The coalition includes representation from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Pakistan, the U.S. and U.K., as well as other naval forces and personnel from several other nations.

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