Breaking News: Crew of US vessel seized by pirates reportedly back in control of shipApril 8, 2009 # 12:54 pm # International Law # No Comment
The American crew of a container ship seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia regained control today to end what may have been the first hijacking of a U.S. vessel in four years of attacks.
One pirate may still be on the ship, held by the crew of 20, and the others have left, said a U.S. defense official, who didn’t give details on how the ship was freed. The U.S.-flagged ship, the Maersk Alabama, is owned by Copenhagen-based A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, the world’s biggest container shipper.
The pirates attacked about 240 miles (386 kilometers) southeast of the Somali port of Eyl, Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy, said by telephone from Bahrain. The closest warship was 300 miles away, he said.
“It was carrying 401 containers of food and cargo bound for Mombassa” in Kenya, said John Reinhart, chief executive officer of Maersk Line Ltd., the company’s U.S. unit, in a press conference at the ship’s home port in Norfolk, Virginia. “It was all relief cargo.”
It was the first seizure of Americans and a U.S. vessel since a Maritime Protection Corridor was set up in the Gulf of Aden in August and may have been the first since pirate activity intensified in 2006, a U.S. Navy spokesman said earlier today.