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Somali pirates foiled by British and U.S. naval forces

Somali pirates seized an Italian ship in the Indian Ocean on Monday, but surrendered after British and U.S. naval forces stormed the vessel on Tuesday.

Pirate somali 2011 10 11Enlarge
A Somali pirate boss stands on sandy dunes just outside the central Somali coastal town of Hobyo as he watches the outline of a hijacked ship anchored off the coast on August 20, 2010. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

Somali pirates seized an Italian ship in the Indian Ocean on Monday, but surrendered after British and U.S. naval forces stormed the vessel on Tuesday.

The Montecristo, a cargo ship owned by the D'Alessio Group, was traveling from Liverpool to Vietnam with a shipment of scrap metal when the pirates hijacked it 620 miles off Somalia, BBC News reports.

The ship’s 23-man crew of seven Italians, six Ukrainians and 10 Indians locked themselves in an armored room from which they could control the ship, the Guardian reports. They steered the vessel towards an area of the ocean patrolled by anti-piracy forces.

The pirates smashed the ship’s communications equipment but the crew threw a bottle containing an S.O.S. message overboard and put up a sign indicating where they were on the ship, BBC News reports.

Italian Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa asked Britain's defense minister, Liam Fox, to send British naval forces onto the ship to attempt a rescue as the British ship was closer than the nearest Italian naval vessel, the Guardian reports.

"Due to the presence of the warships, 11 suspected pirates on-board the pirated vessel surrendered without force," a U.K. Ministry of Defence spokesman told the BBC.

No crew members were harmed and the pirates were now in NATO custody, CNN reports.

According to CNN:

As of late September there were some 400 hostages held by Somali pirates, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

There have been 24 successful hijackings this year to date and 194 incidents. The number of incidents is up from last year, but the number of successful hijackings down, according to the IMB.

With the end of monsoon weather, this year’s "piracy season" has only just begun, Karen Jacques of Dryad Maritime Intelligence Services, which monitors the threat of piracy, told the BBC.

More from GlobalPost: Piracy: Indian Ocean plagued by Somali pirates (VIDEO)
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/111011/somali-pirates-montecristo-british-us-navy-ignazio-la-russa%20