Japanese ship escapes after pirates open fire in Somalia

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A cargo ship owned by a Japanese company has escaped an attack by pirates off the coast of Somalia. The ship outran two pirate boats that opened fire on her yesterday.

The ship, owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and flagged in the Cayman Islands, came under attack at around 4 p.m. Somali time (UTC+3) as gunfire came from two small pirate boats. The vessel, with a crew of eighteen from the Philippines, suffered light damage to its front and windows were broken.

The Jasmine Ace was en-route from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates to Mombasa, Kenya. The 126.75m car carrier had loaded with 377 used cars in Sharjah on March 17.

The ship sped up to try and outrun the high-speed boats, and began to zig-zag as an evasive manoeuvre. The pirates chased for forty minutes but finally gave up. Nobody was injured in the attack.

Piracy is rife in Somalia. Japan sent two destroyers earlier this month to combat piracy in the region, joining an international task force. Indian cargo ship MSV Al Rafiquei was hijacked on Saturday and the ship and the sixteen Indians on board were released on Sunday. Pirates seized the crew's mobiles as well as five barrels of petrol and twenty of diesel. The crew were also assaulted by their captors.