14 Apr 2017

Hijacked Tuvalu-flagged ship rescued by Chinese navy

12:17 pm on 14 April 2017

The bulk carrier, named OS35, was hijacked by pirates last Saturday as it neared the port of Aden, a Yemen city perched off the Horn of Africa.

Indian naval vessels received a distress call and established contact with the captain of the besieged ship.

Tuvalu-flagged bulk carrier OS35

Tuvalu-flagged bulk carrier OS35 Photo: Maritime Herald

They co-ordinated with a nearby Chinese warship Yulin whose personnel subsequently boarded the OS35 and rescued all 19 crew members, while the Indians provided air cover.

According to the Maritime Herald, the Chinese searched the ship and confirmed the pirates had escaped.

The hijacking came amid renewed activity in the past month by Somali pirates, following a period of relative calm in the past couple of years.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, in 2011 pirates launched 237 attacks off the coast of Somalia, and took hundreds of hostages.

Tuvalu seafarers have been among those taken hostage in previous Somali pirate attacks, including a group of 11 aboard a German container ship in 2009.

Tuvalu is one of several pacific Island countries with ship registries which offer flags of convenience for international shipping companies.