Russian Oil Tanker Seized by Somali Pirates in Gulf of Aden

Somali pirates on Wednesday hijacked the Russia-owned oil tanker MV Moscow University bound for China 350 miles off the coast of Yemen with 23 Russian crew and crude oil worth $52 million on board.

"The oil is Chinese. It belongs to Unipec. It was sailing to (the Chinese) port Ningbo," said a Russian shipping source.

Maritime experts said the tanker had a deadweight of 106,474 tonnes and a Russian shipping source said the vessel had begun its journey from Sudan with a cargo of 86,000 tonnes of oil, Reuters informs.

The captain of the tanker managed to get in touch with the Russian warship by phone and call for help. According to the captain, two small boats with armed men on board had made an attempt to approach the tanker and fired automatic weapons.

The Navy source did not say exactly where the Pacific Fleet's Udaloy-class guided-missile destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov was at the moment. The Marshal Shaposhnikov, a large anti-submarine ship, has two helicopters and an infantry unit on board.

A Russian Pacific Fleet task force comprising the Marshal Shaposhnikov, the MB-37 salvage tug and the Pechenga tanker arrived in the Gulf of Aden on March 29 to join the anti-piracy mission there, Russian news agencies RIA Novosti reports.

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