Malta-flagged bulk carrier boarded by pirates heading to Somalia

Indian Navy shadowing Malta-flagged bulk carrier boarded by unknown attackers, likely Somali pirates, in the Arabian Sea

The Indian Navy is shadowing a Malta-flagged bulk carrier that was boarded by unknown attackers — likely Somali pirates — in the Arabian Sea.

The MV Ruen, with a crew of 18, had sent a Mayday message on the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations portal on Thursday indicating that six unknown people had boarded the vessel.

The Indian navy responded to the distress call by sending its anti-piracy patrol warship and maritime patrol aircraft to locate and assist the vessel.

The aircraft overflew the hijacked vessel early Friday and has since been continuously monitoring the movement of the vessel, which the Indian Navy said was headed toward the coast of Somalia. It added that its warship, which was deployed in the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy patrols, also intercepted the carrier early on Saturday.

Transport Malta said it is monitoring the development of maritime security incident and coordinating with the Armed Forces of Malta in liaison with the European Naval Force Somalia Operation Atalanta and other government competent entities and their respective international partners.

Earlier on Saturday, military assets deployed from EU Operation Atalanta and other regional Maritime security coordinating centres intercepted the RUEN vessel and established initial communication.

The crew’s health status has been reported as satisfactory. The navies will continue to monitor closely the vessel’s movements, despite adverse weather conditions in the area, as it navigates towards the northeast Somali coast.

The Ruen, which is managed by Bulgarian shipping company Navibulgar, was off the Yemeni island of Socotra when it was boarded on Thursday, the private intelligence firm Ambrey and the UKMTO said.

Bulgarian authorities said the ship’s crew were nationals of Angola, Bulgaria and Myanmar. “The necessary steps have been taken to pass the information on to all foreign partners and institutions that we will count on to provide assistance,” Bulgarian Foreign Minister Maria Gabriel said.