With the crew of a tanker safe in its "citadel," four pirates surrendered when naval forces arrived. The ship's request for assistance led to Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) warship USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) securing the release of the vessel and its 24 crew members and detention of the four pirates.
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. said today that at about 22:00 JST on Saturday, March 5 (about 17:00 on March 5 local time), the Aframax tanker Guanabara was attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean about 400 nautical miles east of Oman.
The ship was en route with a load of fuel oil from the port of Kerch, Ukraine, for delivery to Zhoushan, China. When it was 328 nautical miles south east of Duqm, Oman, it reported that it was under attack and the crew barricaded themselves in the ship's citadel.
Bulkeley, assigned to CMF's counter-piracy mission Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 was directed to intercept Guanabara, supported by the Turkish warship TCG Giresun of NATO's counter-piracy Task Force 508.
Following confirmation from Guanabara's master that the suspected pirates were on board and his crew had taken refuge in the citadel, Bulkeley's specialist boarding team, supported overhead by its embarked SH-60 helicopter, secured the Bahamian-flagged vessel and detained four men.
There was no exchange of fire at any time during the operation to release the MV Guanabara. CMF says the decision on what to do with the suspected pirates is ongoing.
CMF's counter-piracy commander, Commodore Abdul Alheem said,
"The ships and aircraft under my command have today scored a real and immediate victory through the disruption of a suspected act of piracy and the detention of individuals believed to be engaging in piracy.
"Through our mutual cooperation and shared coordination, CTF-151 and our partner organizations have prevented the kidnaping of legitimate mariners who sought only to go peacefully about their business. Today there will be a merchant ship sailing freely that would not be doing so were it not for the efforts of CTF-151."
In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and in cooperation with non-member forces, CMF's mission is to disrupt piracy and armed robbery at sea and to engage with regional and other partners to build capacity and improve relevant capabilities in order to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation.
CMF is a multi-national naval partnership, which exists to promote security, stability and prosperity across 2.5 million square miles of international waters in the Middle East, which encompass some of the world's most important shipping lanes.
March 7, 2011