THE US Navy destroyer which rescued the distressed commercial tanker in Gulf of Aden noted that Chinese ships were in the area but apparently ignored pleas for help from crew including two Filipinos.
“So my understanding is there were three PLA Navy ships in the vicinity. However, they did not respond. Supposedly, those ships are there as part of a counter-piracy mission, but they did not respond,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters in Washington D.C.
Chemical tanker M/V Central Park was passing the International Recommended Transit Corridor in Gulf of Aden when armed men boarded their ship Sunday morning local time.
The crew immediately locked themselves inside a safe room and issued a distress call stating they were “under attack by pirates.” According to the Department of Migrant Workers, two of the 22 crew on board were Filipinos.
Ryder said the pirates tried to control the ship and force their way into the crew cabin.
USS Mason, joined by Japanese destroyer Akebono, demanded the pirates to abandon the ship. Five pirates fled on board their small boat and were chased by the Visit, Board, Search and Seizure unit of the USS Mason.
Five armed men were arrested and detained in Mason. Based on their initial assessment, it appears that they are Somalis and a case of piracy-related incident.
The Gulf of Aden, strategically located between the African continent and Arabian peninsula, is one of the busiest and most important waterway for shipping and for world economy. Countries around it include Yemen and Somalia.
Piracy continue unabated off the coast of Somalia, following the vacuum of leadership in 1991. The United Nations approved the multinational coalition of anti-piracy called Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) to take action against piracy in international waters in the area.
Aside from the US, other members of the coalition forces include Australia, Brazil, Italy, Japan, Jordan, South Korea, Spain, Singapore, Thailand, Turkiye and the Philippines.
Coincidentally, the CTF Command is now headed by Philippine Navy Capt. Mateo Carido.
In September, China deployed guided-missile destroyer Urumqi, the missile frigate Linyi, replenishment vessel Dongpinghu, dozens of special forces personnel and two helicopters in the Gulf of Aden. According to Xinhua News, the Chinese Navy are in the Gulf region to escort ships and conduct anti-piracy training.
Zodiac Maritime, London-based international ship management company of Central Park, thanked the international naval coalition who helped rescue the crew, the cargo and vessel on Monday.
“We would like to thank the coalition forces who responded quickly, protecting assets in the area and upholding international maritime law,” Janni Järvinen, Crisis Communications Manager speaking in behalf of the management, told BusinessMirror in a statement.
Aside from the crew, the vessel and the cargo are also unharmed.
Image credits: Zodiac Maritime via AP