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Destroyer Tracking Hijacked Oil Tanker Near Somalia

Posted April. 06, 2010 03:25,   


“D-day is Tuesday morning (Korean Standard Time). Track the path of the Samho Dream using radar and satellites.”

This order was issued by Capt. Kim Myeong-seong of the Chungmugong Yi Sun-shin, a destroyer of the Cheonghae naval unit, to his subordinates at 1 a.m. yesterday with the launch of the vessel.

Stationed in the port of Salalah, Oman, the vessel received a new mission at 11 p.m. Sunday: rescue the oil tanker Samho Dream from pirates who hijacked it 1,500 kilometers southeast of the Gulf of Aden at 4:10 p.m.

The destroyer has had only 80 hours at sea. If the deadline for the ransom passes, the Samho Dream is likely to be dragged to the pirates’ lair, which is assumed to be off the Somali coast. If this happens, the rescue could be prolonged.

Seoul used the destroyer with the goal of blocking pirates in advance. A source from the Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry said, “We decided to send the Yi Sun-shin under the government’s guideline that puts the top priority on the lives and safety of the crew. The naval vessel is heading for the port where the hijacked ship is likely to go, not where the hijacking occurred.”

If the destroyer correctly tracks the path of the pirates via radar, it could find the Samho Dream this morning.

The Yi Sun-shin’s top speed is 30 knots (about 55.5 kilometers per hour) and that of the oil tanker is about 10 knots (18.5 kilometers per hour). So the destroyer is expected to find the hijacked vessel in one and a half day.

Since the hijacking occurred 1,500 kilometers southeast from the place where the Cheonghae unit was stationed and is 2,000 kilometers from the port where the Somali pirates are believed to be hiding, satellites can detect the movement of the oil tanker.

A source from the Defense Ministry in Seoul said, “Lynx helicopters that the destroyer has could work before a hijacking, but the situation is different when the ship is hijacked. Considering the safety of the crew, we will conduct a careful operation.”

The pirates who hijacked the Samho Dream are known to have contacted Samho Shipping, the employer of the vessel, yesterday afternoon. The conditions of the five Koreans and 19 Filipinos onboard remain unknown.

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