Zodiac crew unharmed after Somalia attack
The 22 crew on board Liberia-flagged chemical tanker Central Park retreated to the ship’s secure citadel following the first pirate attack off Somalia in at least six years
Zodiac’s chemical tanker Central Park was boarded by pirates on Sunday morning, not, as initially reported, Houthi naval forces. All crew are safe and the vessel and cargo undamaged. US navy has apprehended five individuals who are being held for questioning
A Liberia-flagged chemical tanker boarded by unidentified attackers off the coast of Somalia on Sunday morning is free and the 22 crew unharmed following the intervention of a US Navy warship which responded to the ship's distress call.
Despite initial reports suggesting that the Liberia-flagged Central Park (IMO: 9725823), owned by UK-based Zodiac Maritime, had been boarded by pirates security analysts suspect the attack may have been another attempted seizure by Houthi rebels.
A statement issued by Zodiac on Sunday evening confirmed that the tanker, its crew and cargo were all safe and unharmed.
At approximately 0600 hrs local time on Sunday Central Park’s Turkish master had issued a distress call stating that the tanker was under attack by pirates while transiting the International Recommended Transit Corridor approximately 54 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia.
The attackers had approached the vessel in skiffs and boarded, forcing the 22 crew to retreat to the ship’s secure citadel.
The USS Mason, a destroyer, responded to the distress call and subsequently captured the unidentified attackers.
“Five armed individuals debarked the ship and attempted to flee via their small boat,” Centcom said on X. “The Mason pursued the attackers resulting in their eventual surrender.”
The attackers are being questioned by US naval officials but no details have yet been divulged.
The attacker had all the hallmarks of an attempted piracy hijacking rather than another attempted seizure by the Yemen Houthi forces which used a helicopter and strike team to take control of the Galaxy Leader last week. The the last successful piracy attack off the coast of Somalia was in 2017.
It remains unclear whether the attack on the Central Park was part of a coordinated but failed missile attack.
On Saturday, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said “an entity declaring itself to be the Yemeni authorities” had warned the Central Park that it would attack if it didn’t change course to the Yemeni port of Hodeidah. US Naval forces nearby radioed the tanker to ignore the message and continue sailing.
Later, around 2:40 a.m. Dubai time on Monday, two missiles were fired from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen toward the Mason and the Central Park. They landed about 10 miles from the ships and there was no damage to either vessel, US Central Command said on Monday morning.
The Central Park attack followed the hijacking of the Ray Shipping Limited-owned, car carrier Galaxy Leader (IMO: 9237307) by Yemen Houthis, allies of Iran, in the southern Red Sea last week. The group, which also fired ballistic missiles and armed drones at Israel, vowed to target more Israeli vessels.
On Friday, the Eastern Pacific containership CMA CGM Symi (IMO: 9867839) came under attack by a suspected Iranian drone. The drone exploded, causing some damage to the ship but did not injure any of its crew.
“Maritime domain security is essential to regional stability,” said Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, Centcom’s commander. “We will continue to work with allies and partners to ensure the safety and security of international shipping lanes.”