China, India, Pakistan free 19 after Somali pirate hijacking

Maritime officials said India, China and Pakistan responded to a Somali pirate hijacking and freed 19 captured crew members in the Gulf of Aden.

The Indian Navy's INS Mumbai, seen in the background, helped free a Tuvalu-flagged ship, seen in the foreground, in which 19 crew members were captured on Saturday. The Indian Navy said it believes the pirates fled overnight. Photo courtesy Indian Navy
The Indian Navy’s INS Mumbai, seen in the background, helped free a Tuvalu-flagged ship, seen in the foreground, in which 19 crew members were captured on Saturday. The Indian Navy said it believes the pirates fled overnight. Photo courtesy Indian Navy

The ships responded following an alert by the United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations, or UKMTO, of the hijacking of a Tuvalu-flagged ship Saturday night.

The Indian Navy said the pirates likely fled from the timber-carrying ship overnight after the naval fleets responded.
“The Indian warships established contact with the captain of the merchant vessel, who along with the crew had locked themselves in a strong room on board, as per standard operating procedure,” the Indian Navy said in a statement. “An Indian Navy helicopter undertook aerial reconnaissance of the merchant vessel at night, and at sunrise, to sanitize the upper decks of the merchant ship and ascertain the location of pirates, if still on board.”

A team from a Chinese vessel boarded on Sunday. The UKMTO said the crew members were safe and headed to an unnamed destination under escort.

By Andrew V. Pestano