On Sunday night a Mitsui OSK Lines’ car carrier was attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, 900km off the coast of Somalia. The Jasmine Ace, which was carrying 377 used vehicles on route to the Port of Mombasa in Kenya, evaded capture by taking evasive action but sustained some damage to the hull and wheel house.
None of the 18 crew members were injured during the attack and no oil was lost from the hull. The pirates gave up pursuit after 40 minutes and the vessel proceeded to safe waters.
The 13,000-ton Jasmine Ace picked up the vehicles from the UAE Port of Sharjah on Tuesday 17 March.
The attack was one of three carried out on Sunday night, the other two involving a Hong Kong container ship and a Greek bulk carrier. Neither of these vessels were captured either.
Japan has now sent two destroyers to the Gulf of Aden to escort vessels operated by Japanese shipping firms through the gulf. There is already a strong international presence there with warships from countries including Britain, the US, France, China and Germany providing protection.
According to the Associated Press pirates attacked more than 100 ships off Somalia's coast last year and there were roughly 10 times as many attacks in January and February 2009 as there were over the same period in 2008. Forty ships have been attacked in the area this year, of which five were hijacked.
This is the first time a car carrier has been targeted.