London: In a daring raid, six Indian crew
members were on Tuesday rescued along with 17 others after their
hijacked ship was stormed by British and American naval forces
without meeting any resistance from the Somali pirates.
A UK Ministry of Defence spokesman said the British Royal
Fleet Auxiliary ship Fort Victoria and a US frigate were sent
to help the seized vessel.
The 56,000-ton bulk carrier Montecristo was hijacked 620
miles off Somalia yesterday by pirates in a small boat.
"We can confirm that late this morning the RFA Fort
Victoria, currently on NATO counter-piracy operations east of
Suez, responded to calls to assist a pirated Italian merchant
ship, the MV Montecristo, along with an American navy frigate.
Due to the presence of the warships, 11 suspected pirates
on-board the pirated vessel surrendered without force," the
There were 23 crew members, including six Indians, seven
Italians and 10 from Ukraine.
The D`Alessio Group-owned cargo ship, carrying scrap
metal, was making its way from Liverpool to Vietnam when it
was intercepted by pirates.
The Royal Navy boarded the ship and met no resistance,
before detaining 11 suspected pirates.
Expressing "great satisfaction" Italian defence minister
Ignazio La Russa said UK and US forces had used helicopters as
part of the rescue mission.
The suspected pirates would be handed over to Italian
authorities, he said.
The ship had set off from the port of Liverpool and was
understood to be en route to Vietnam.
Media reports said that as soon as the Italian ship left
the escort of a Japanese naval vessel and entered the Indian
Ocean it came under attack from the pirates.