A fire broke out on the bridge and crew quarters during the attack, forcing both pirates and crew members to abandon the vessel. All crew members – believed to be 26 Filipinos – escaped safely, as did the seven pirates who had boarded.
The crew took to a lifeboat, and were then picked up by a US warship, the USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), according to the Combined Task Force.
"The Brillante Virtuoso is presently safely adrift and two tugs have arrived from Aden and having secured the vessel, are proceeding with fire-fighting measures,” the ship’s manager, Athens-based Central Mare Inc, said in a statement. “The Master, Chief Engineer and Electrician are on board the tugs to assist in the salvage operation. No pollution or injury to crew members has been reported.”
The 149,601 dwt Suez Max oil tanker was attacked at 0006 hrs UTC, only 20 miles the Port of Aden, the company said. The vessel was en-route from Kerch, Ukraine to Qingdao, China, carrying 141,404.941 MT of fuel oil.
The statement said that the fire began when the pirates fired an RPG into the crew’s quarters, causing them to abandon their efforts to seize the vessel. The master then ordered the crew to evacuate.
There have been few attacks in recent weeks due to the monsoon season, but conditions are expected to shortly improve. According to the Korean Herald, a South Korean warship on Sunday foiled the attempted seizure of the South-Korean owned STX Azalea.