Somali pirates hijacked a North Korean cargo ship on Wednesday with an unknown number of crew on board, the European Union Naval Force said.

The MV Rim was seized in the Gulf of Aden, outside the internationally recommended transit corridor patrolled by the anti-piracy naval coalition, said Cmdr. Anders Kallin of the EU Naval Force.

The MV Rim has not had any communication with maritime authorities, but Kallin said an American warship, the USS Porter, and a helicopter from American warship USS Farragut confirmed the seizure of the ship to the EU.

The 4,800-ton ship is owned by White Sea Shipping of Libya. It is carrying unknown cargo and the number and nationalities of the crew are not known. The seized ship was heading toward the Somali coast and warships were monitoring the situation, the EU Naval Force said.

The MV Rim is the third ship seized by Somali pirates this year. Its crew will join more than 180 sailors being held hostage along the Somali coast.

Most Somalis are impoverished and many have suffered from almost two decades of fighting. The anarchic Horn of Africa nation is the perfect pirate base because the weak U.N.-backed government is too busy fighting an Islamist insurgency to patrol its shores or go after pirates on land.

The multimillion dollar ransoms that pirates command are one of the few remaining ways for Somalis to make money. Experts say the problems will only get worse unless the security situation on land improves.