A Russian naval executive officer who was an eyewitness to a coordinated pirate attack about 240 miles off the coast of Somalia says the pirates attacked in cigarette boats, seizing a Panamanian flagged freighter after a "substantial" firefight.
The seizure took place at about 11:30 AM Eastern Standard Time, or 7:30 AM local time.
Captain Stepan V. Verderevsky said that his ship was part of a convoy escorting the captured vessel when several small boats launched several attacks at once. Several maydays were issued
Verderevsky was not certain of the exact latitude and longitude of the seizure, nor could he confirm where the vessel is currently except that it is moving toward Eyl on the Somali coast.
Russian authorities have been notified that Verderevsky's ship is following the seized freighter. He did not immediately know if American or Yemeni authorities had been notified. His ship did not notify the Somali government, he said.
Verderevsky characterized the seized boat simply as a "large freighter" that has a Panamanian registry.
The convoy escorting the seized vessel included an Iranian destroyer, as the Gulf is patroled by a multinational force.
Verderevsky did not know if American naval assets were nearby.
The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Somalia. Personnel were removed from the American Embassy in Yemen following a second fatal bombing there in late 2008.