Russian forces storm oil tanker seized by Somali pirates, crew freed

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Russian special forces aboard the Marshal Shaposhnikov warship have stormed an oil tanker that was recently seized by Somali pirates.

The forces boarded the Moscow University ship, where they freed the 23 crew members, who had been hiding in a secure room in the ship after disabling the vessel's motor. There was a shootout between pirates and special forces, in which one pirate was killed. Ten other pirates were taken into custody.

"Pirates have released the tanker [...] All crew on board the tanker are alive and well," said a spokeswoman for the tanker's owner Novoship. The company said the decision to take the ship over by force was made because "the crew was under safe cover inaccessible to the pirates". The Moscow University is carrying 86,000 tons of crude oil, valued at US$50 million.

Pirates currently are holding over 300 hostages and twenty vessels in various locations around Somalia; international warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden have been unable to entirely halt the hijacking of ships.