Sunday, February 7, 2010
NATO forces recapture vessel seized by pirates
(CNN) -- NATO forces recaptured a ship Friday that had been taken over by armed Somali pirates, a spokesman for the European Union Naval Forces told CNN.
The ship's 25 crew members were freed, Commander John Harbour said.
The Ariella, an Antigua and Barbuda-flagged shipping vessel, was following a route from the Red Sea, through the Gulf of Aden, and into the Indian Ocean Friday when it was seized by the pirates, according to Harbour.
A European Maritime patrol airplane arrived on the scene shortly after receiving a distress call from the Ariella, he noted. After the plane verified the presence of pirates on the ship, nearby NATO Danish Special Forces approached and boarded the ship.
Special Forces members found the ship's crew hiding in a compartment, unharmed. Both the Special Forces and the EU Naval Forces believe the pirates fled when the warship arrived.
The Ariella is owned by the Slovenian company Splosna Plovda, according to Harbour. The route being followed by the Ariella at the time of the attack is a frequent target for pirates. It is strongly patrolled by anti-piracy forces, including NATO and individual countries' navies.
EU Naval Forces frequently work in conjunction with NATO on anti-piracy operations.