As if we needed further proof that the world is a complicated place:
Iran’s Navy has once again flexed its muscles in the fight against piracy, reportedly freeing a Chinese cargo ship and its 28 crew hijacked last week in the Gulf of Oman.
As gCaptain reported on Friday, the cargo ship, identified as the Panamanian-flagged and Chinese-owned Xianghuamen, was successfully hijacked by Somali pirates on Friday morning in the Sea of Oman near Iran’s southern port of Chabahar with Iranian warships in hot pursuit.
Now media reports are indicating that pirates actually surrendered as result of pressure from the Iranian navy, and possibly in part due to a mechanical malfunction.
It’s worth noting that retaking of vessels already captured by pirates is exceedingly rare. In most such situations, the crew of the captured ship plays are role, either by barricading themselves in a “citadel” or disabling the ship so that the pirates are stranded. The Chinese media has details:
At around 5:00 pm (1230 GMT) the Iranian warship exchanged fire with the pirates. Five crew members shut down the engine system of the vessel and jumped into the sea.
The angry pirates demanded the remaining crew members to restart the engine system but they failed, because only three of the five crew members who jumped into the sea knew how to restore the engine system.
After being beaten by the pirates for inability to restart the engine system, captain He also jumped into the sea.
As the vessel could not sail forward, the nine Somali pirates got nervous under Iranian warship’s firing. They finally threw their weapons into the sea and surrendered to the Iranian navy.
This is likely to be a big-time PR coup for the Iranian Navy – they would love Chinese help at the UN. The paranoid side of my brain wonders if the Iranians could have been involved somehow given the proximity of the hijacking to Iran, but that seems to be contradicted by the Chinese crew’s account and images of Somali pirates on Iranian State TV.