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Photo of the MV Ruen courtesy EUNAVFOR

Photo of the MV Ruen courtesy EUNAVFOR

Mystery Surrounds Hijacked Bulk Carrier ‘Ruen’ Off Somalia

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 20591
December 19, 2023

The European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) is continuing to closely monitor the situation of the hijacked Maltese-flagged MV Ruen in cooperation with local Somali authorities.

The ship, which was en route from Gwangyang, South Korea, carrying a cargo of metals, was hijacked on the morning of December 14th in the Indian Ocean approximately 680 nautical miles east of Bosaso, Somalia. The exact demands of the hijackers, and their motivations, remain unknown.

Following the hijacking, the EUNAVFOR Flagship ESPS VICTORIA was deployed to gather more information and evaluate potential actions. The Ruen has since arrived in Somali waters and is currently located between Eyl and Xaafun peninsula in Somalia.

If confirmed as Somali piracy, it would be the first successful hijacking involving Somali pirates since 2017. The incident also comes amid the broader maritime security situation in the Red Sea as Yemen-based Houthi’s target commercial ships in the region in support of Hamas in Gaza. In one instance, five Somali nationals were apprehended after attempting to hijack a commercial tanker in the Gulf of Aden.

The situation on board the Ruen is being constantly monitored by the ESPS VICTORIA, along with the Japanese Navy ship AKEBONO and the Indian Navy ship KOCHI, which arrived in the vicinity of the hijacked vessel on the December 16th.

On December 15th, an Indian maritime patrol plane established radio communications with the crew of the vessel, who were locked up in the citadel, a safe room on board the ship. However, the pirates later managed to break into the citadel and extract the crew. EUNAVFOR is now reporting that one of Ruen’s crew member has been evacuated for medical care. Meanwhile, the remaining crew members’ well-being remains a concern.

The Ruen is managed by Bulgaria’s Navigation Maritime Bulgare, according to Equasis data.

The ESPS VICTORIA has been granted permission by the Federal Government of Somalia to track the MV Ruen, even within Somalia’s territorial waters. The EUNAVFOR unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), SCAN EAGLE, based on ESPS VICTORIA, has been providing situational awareness by collecting data from the hijacked vessel.

As of Tuesday, the ESPS VICTORIA has temporarily left the area for logistic reasons but will continue to closely monitor the situation. Updates will be provided as the situation develops.

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