WASHINGTON - The US navy intervened to stop the hijacking of a commercial cargo ship by pirates in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia on Sunday, according to US defence officials.
Sailors from the destroyer USS Mason captured the attackers who had boarded the Central Park, a chemical tanker, a senior defence official said.
Central Park is a Liberian-flagged tanker owned by Israeli business magnate Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Maritime, according to Reuters.
London-based Zodiac Maritime said the ship and crew are safe and unharmed, but provided few details.
The ship’s crew had issued a distress call Sunday reporting they were under attack by pirates, as they passed through the Gulf of Aden, about 54 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, according to Zodiac Maritime.
US officials cautioned much is not known about the incident, including whether Iran was involved or if it was an attack unrelated to the regional tensions that have intensified since Hamas’ Oct 7 attack on Israel. Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran in the war in Yemen, attacked several commercial vessels last week in the Red Sea, a body of water next to the Gulf of Aden, including the Central Park.
Officials said it is not clear if the attackers were the same group that attempted to take the ship earlier. While the Houthi rebels struck in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden where the Central Park was attacked is far from their area of operations. One US official and one former Pentagon official said Iranian involvement in the operation is being investigated.
US defence officials said the US navy and other coalition ships responded to the distress call Sunday. The senior defence official said another piracy attempt had been made against the ship in recent days off the coast of Yemen in the Red Sea.
The attackers boarded the ship, but were not able to take the crew, who had locked themselves in a safe room.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.