I guess most of us have heard about MV EGLANTINE, the Iranian sugar ship just freed from pirates by Iranian commandos. Stories like this are always good news, provided things went well with little or nothing in the way of casualties, and that seems to have been the case this time.
Here's the story of her capture, on 26 March: http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/3154/Somalia_Pirates_Hijack_MV_EGLANTINE_ She was taken off Hoarafushi Island in the Maldives - the first ship taken in Maldive waters. She was carrying a load of Brazilian sugar for delivery in Iran, and the ship is also Iranian-owned. Here are some more statistics about her: http://convenientflags.blogspot.com/2012/03/eglantine-sdn-list-ship-hijacked.html
The crew consisted of several nationalities - including 11 Iranians, 10 Filipinos, one Indian, and one Ukrainian, according to this report: http://un.ua/eng/article/383614.html Also, here are reports from a Philippine source: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/253735/pinoyabroad/hijacked-ship-with-10-pinoy-crew-members-released-by-somali-pirates-mdash-dfa and a Ukranian one: http://un.ua/eng/article/383614.html Obviously, these seamen's families must be overjoyed to know that their men are released and on their way home! Although you'll have noticed that the Philippine story above said that at least 57 Filipino seamen on other ships were still being held by pirates.
News reports conflicted at first - some saying she had been ransomed - but the consensus now is that she was stormed by Iranian naval forces. One story quotes an Iranian admiral as saying that after "48 hours of intensive fighting" all crew had been freed without harm, and 13 pirates taken captive: http://www.micportal.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7006:iranian-bulk-carrier-eglantine-released&catid=25:security-measures&Itemid=38 The admiral said the pirates would be turned over to Iranian judiciary for trial. The Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008, when Somali raiders hijacked the Iranian-chartered cargo ship, MV Delight, off the coast of Yemen.
Props to the Iranian Navy for this operation - this time they liberated one of their own ships, but the annals of anti-piracy operations contain plenty of examples of one nation's naval forces releasing or preventing the capture another nation's ships and men. It's all for one, one for all under these conditions! That at least benefits seamen of all nationalities.
This report notes that at the same time as the MV EGLANTINE incident, another ship was attacked but her onboard security team returned fire and drove the attackers off: http://www.garoweonline.com/artman2/publish/Somalia_27/Somalia_Somali_pirates_release_Iranian_cargo_ship.shtml The skiff was stopped by an EU warship, FS Aconit, but the men in the skiff were not carrying weapons at that time, so they were treated for injuries sustained from the security team's warning shots. The story doesn't say whether they were subsequently released, but that's often the case.
These are only news stories, but you may be there. Are you in a ship passing through piracy waters? How has your ship coped - what protective measures have you taken? Have you, or someone you've known, been taken prisoner? Please help us to understand the piracy issue from your personal point of view!