Sattahip Navy vessel rescues Thai boat crew near Somalia

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A Sattahip-based Royal Thai Navy vessel rescued 23 crew members of a Thai fishing boat hijacked by Somali pirates off the coast of Yemen Nov. 3.

The HTMS Similan, one of two Thai Navy ships taking part in the international effort to stem piracy in the Gulf of Aden, plucked the seven Thais, 15 Cambodians and one Yemeni police officer out of the sea 15 miles off the Yemen coast Nov. 7 and transported them to a hospital in Oman.

Thai Navy crewmen aboard the HTMS Similan pluck from the sea survivors of the Sirichai Nava 11 that had been sunk after Somali pirates hijacked it in the Gulf of Eden. Thai Navy crewmen aboard the HTMS Similan pluck from the sea survivors of the Sirichai Nava 11 that had been sunk after Somali pirates hijacked it in the Gulf of Eden.

Survivors said one other Thai and four other Yemeni policemen were missing.

Several of crew sustained chemical burns while others had swallowed large amounts of water contaminated with the same chemicals released when Sirichai Nava 11 was shot and sunk by an unknown vessel after being hijacked.

The navy has already contacted Sirichai Fishing Co., owner of the Yemen-registered vessel, to arrange transport back to Thailand for the crew.

The ship was reportedly attacked by 10 Somali pirates, two of whom fled on speedboats while the other eight steered the vessel toward Yemen, where it was sunk before reaching shore.

The Similan, along with the HTMS Pattani, are on a three-month tour of the region to assist in policing shipping lanes where 32 Thai vessels have been attacked in the past year.

The Pattani had earlier searched with helicopters for the Nava 11 after reports of the hijacking, but found neither the fishing boat nor the crew. The Similan, having traveled 400 miles, arrived the next morning and returned to the attack site to find the 23 men floating there.