Russian commandos from the large anti-submarine ship Marshal Shaposhnikov released on Thursday a Russian tanker hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.
A high-ranking official from the maritime coalition forces said Navy forces made the decision to release the Moscow University tanker as they were aware the sailors had taken cover in an area inaccessible to the pirates on board the ship.
"Around 3.00 a.m. Moscow time [23:00 GMT], the large anti-submarine ship sailed out toward the tanker's location to assess the situation using technical equipment. Then the decision on conducting a special operation was made. During the operation, none of the Russians was injured," the official said adding the pirates had been detained.
Russian tanker's assault operation
According to the official, the commandos from the Marshal Shaposhnikov detained 10 pirates and killed one during the release of the tanker.
"During the reconnaissance preceding the assault operation, the Russian commandos simultaneously used helicopters and speedboats while special forces covertly approached the tanker," the official said adding that after a short shootout the pirates were detained and put under custodial guard in one of the tanker's compartments.
"During the large anti-submarine ship Marshal Shaposhnikov's special operation, the pirates on board the Moscow University tanker opened fire using small arms. One of them [pirates] was shot during return fire," the military official said, adding none of the Russian sailors was injured.
According to the ministry official, the pirates' weapons were seized, including large-caliber, grenade launchers and the equipment used to board the tanker (ladder and grappling hooks).
Detained pirates to be sent to Moscow
Later on Thursday, a Russian Investigative Committee spokesman said that all the detained pirates involved in hijacking the Moscow University tanker would be sent to Moscow for proceedings.
"The investigation [committee] has begun measures to send the detained pirates to Moscow for investigations and launch proceedings under Russian law and international legal norms," Vladimir Markin said.
Markin said some of the 10 detained pirates were injured. One pirate was killed during the assault operation.
The incident with the Moscow University tanker has become the most notorious case after the Arctic Sea cargo vessel was hijacked after it sailed from Finland last summer. Russian Black Fleet sailors then freed the Arctic Sea.
The Russian tanker's seizure
The Moscow University tanker with 23 Russian crewmembers and 86,000 tons of oil was hijacked by Somali pirates on Wednesday around 8.00 a.m. Moscow time [04:00 GMT], when it was on its way from the Red Sea to China. The pirates attacked the Russian vessel 350 miles east of the Gulf of Aden.
The captain of the tanker was able to get in touch with the Russian warship by phone and called for help.
A Russian Pacific Fleet task force comprising the Marshal Shaposhnikov, the MB-37 salvage tug and the Pechenga tanker arrived in the Gulf of Aden on March 29 to join the anti-piracy mission in the pirate-infested region.
The Marshal Shaposhnikov has two helicopters and an infantry unit on board.
MOSCOW, May 6 (RIA Novosti)