Published June 28, 2010
NAIROBI, Kenya -- Somali pirates hijacked a Singaporean-flagged ship early Monday with 19 Chinese sailors onboard and a poisonous chemical used in antifreeze, officials said.
The Golden Blessing was seized off the northern tip of Somalia inside the internationally recommended transit corridor in the Gulf of Aden that is patrolled by the anti-piracy naval coalition, said Lt. Col. Per Klingvall, a spokesman for the European Union's anti-piracy force.
Klingvall said the 14,445-ton chemical tanker was carrying a cargo of glycol ethylene -- which is used in antifreeze -- when it was captured approximately 60 miles off the northern Somali coast. The vessel was moving toward the Somali coast after the hijacking.
The hijacked ship is owned by Golden Pacific International Holdings Ltd. and is chartered out to Shanghai Dingheng Shipping Co. Ltd.
In a statement, the Singapore Maritime and Port Authority said it "is working with relevant government agencies and the ship owner, and is monitoring the situation closely."
Somali pirates hold more than a dozen ships and several hundred crew members.
The Horn of African nation's 19 years of lawlessness has allowed piracy to flourish. Pirates can earn multimillion dollar ransoms from successful hijackings.
The waters surrounding Somalia, including the Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, are known to be among the world's most dangerous. An international flotilla, including warships from the United States, the European Union, NATO, Japan and China, has been patrolling the area to protect a sea lane that links Asia to Europe.