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US Marines rescue boxship from pirates as crew remain hidden

Dubai: US Marines have rescued a 8,000teu containership seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia the previous day.

In a pre-dawn raid today, US Marines "boarded and seized control of the Antigua-Barbuda-flagged, German-owned vessel, M/V Magellan Star, from pirates who attacked and boarded the vessel early September 8," the US Fifth Fleet said. No one was hurt in the operation, in which the Magellan Star's crew was freed and nine pirates arrested.

The pirates had spent nearly 20 hours searching for the 11-man crew - comprising two Russians, two Poles and seven Filipinos - and even phoned the shipowner, Hamburg-based Quadrant, to ask where they were hidden. "The crew had closed down the engines and locked themselves away in a safe room which the pirates were unable to find," a Quadrant spokesman said. As a result the pirates were unable to start the engines of the ship, which remained a sitting target for the rescue operation.

The rescue operation was launched from the USS Dubuque after a Turkish frigate - part of a multinational force - responded to a distress signal from the Magellan Star which was sailing from Bilbao in Spain to Singapore. 

In this week's Seatrade Asia Week it was reported that more than 350 crew are currently held hostage by pirates. [09/09/10]

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