The 3,500-tonne tanker full of liquid gas was captured in the Gulf of Aden in the pirate infested waters off the coast of Somalia despite a heavy fire fight with an Indian navy vessel that reportedly injured two of the pirates. One member of the Hamburg-owned “Longchamp” crew was also injured.
The ship’s captain has reportedly told the pirates that they could become infected with cancer and die within two years if they come into contact with the Longchamp’s dangerous cargo. Severe damage to the vessel is also possible if oxygen reaches the cargo tanks. The highjackers are now apparently keen to be rid of the boat as soon as possible.
In 2008 pirates carried out 110 attacks in the key shipping lanes of the Gulf of Aden, located between southern Yemen and northern Somalia. They captured the world’s attention when they hijacked the Saudi-owned super-tanker Sirius Star, carrying two million barrels of crude oil, and demanded a $25-million ransom for the ship and its crew – the largest pirate capture ever made.