Message in a bottle+cardboard=pirates foiled
October 11th, 2011
12:13 PM ET

Message in a bottle+cardboard=pirates foiled

CNN's Richard Allen Greene, Chris Lawrence, Claudia Rebaza, Gisella Deputato, Laura Perez Maestro and David McKenzie contributed to this report

The crew of an Italian ship seized by pirates on Monday was freed Tuesday thanks to an operation by U.S. and British troops working with the Italian military, the Italian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Eleven pirates who hijacked the Montecristo surrendered to the troops operating under NATO's Operation Ocean Shield, the ministry said in a statement.

All crew members are safe, the ministry said.

They barricaded themselves in the engine room after throwing a message overboard in a bottle and putting up a cardboard sign to let rescuers know where they were.

They were able to retain control of the ship's steering, even though the pirates destroyed the ship's communications equipment, a NATO officer said.

The USS De Wert was the first ship to arrive on the scene, and monitored the hijacked vessel until the British ship HMS Fort Victoria arrived with a boarding team, Lt. Gwenn Laine of NATO told CNN.

The pirates threw their weapons into the sea as the boarding team closed in, and stood on deck to surrender once they boarded, Laine said.

He praised the crew for following "best maritime practices," saying that by barricading themselves in a safe place they probably avoided violence.

The pirates are in NATO custody, said Laine, who works with the alliance's Operation Ocean Shield.

The captain sent a message Monday indicating that the vessel had been attacked by a ship with five armed people on board, the D'Alesio Group said in a statement.

The captain immediately activated security procedures, the statement said.

The ship was about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) east of the Somali coast at the time.

The crew includes 23 people from Italy, Ukraine, and India, the D'Alesio Group said.

Their rescue came shortly after Italy said it would start putting military guards on ships traversing the pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia

Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa is signing an agreement Tuesday with the confederation of Italian shipowners to put military guards on board vessels in the area of the Indian Ocean at risk from Somali pirates, his ministry told CNN.

Both NATO and the European Union have naval missions dedicated to protecting ships in the region, but hijackings remain common.

As of late September there were some 400 hostages held by Somali pirates, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

There have been 24 successful hijackings this year to date and 194 incidents. The number of incidents is up from last year, but the number of successful hijackings down, according to the IMB.

soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Jacked Sparrow

    Over 400 hostages? I thought they became pirates because they were poor and living in 3rd world countries. How are they managing to feed and house that many "guests". Maybe they should open a brothel instead and leave pirating to the real pirates.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  2. Max128

    The ship was 620 miles from the Somali coast. Why do ships still even go anywhere near Somalia?

    October 11, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Reply
    • isfomemama

      620 miles is "near"?

      October 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  3. LifeLongWestern NYer

    Once the ship was reclaimed, they should have tossed the pirates in the drink to go after their weapons. Maybe they could meet up with Osama Bin Laden down there.


    October 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  4. bristoltwit palin... America's favorite dancing cow

    I'm inviting all those pirates over to my place tonight. Traintime !

    October 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Reply
  5. martinmunson

    A lot of artifacts from the sea have been posted to wickedimproper . com, including an original Christopher Columbus journal that is quite topical considering the holiday yesterday.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Reply
  6. donnamarinchekmarn01

    A Message in a Bottle,works better than a "Informant".

    October 11, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  7. AGuest9

    A letter in a plastic water bottle??? What happened to EPIRBs???

    October 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  8. Lance

    And for those of you who are about to chime in saying that I'm a racist just stop now! I'm in no way a racist. These worthless pirates just happen to be black. If they were white I would probably have used "white meat" in my response!

    October 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  9. F

    Why didn't they just shoot them off the freaking deck when the pirates came on deck to throw thier guns over the side? That would be the end of the story. Now we have to waste time and money jailing them, lawyering them, caring for them, rehabilitating them, paying for their new life as good citizen now that they have given up pirating. What a wasted chance. Shoot dammit shoot when you see weapons !!!

    October 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Reply
    • Steve O

      Probably for the same reason we have rule of law everywhere else.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Reply
    • AGuest9

      Shooting unarmed opponents? Where have we heard THAT in history? Oh, yeah... Bad guys.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  10. Lance

    I heard sharks love dark meat!

    October 11, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  11. Dustin

    This story doesn't make any sense... the headline implies that the hijacking was only noticed because of the message in the bottle, but nowhere in the article does it explain the sequence of events that lead to their rescue, other than saying that the captain threw a message in a bottle overboard. Who found it? How did they find it? How long did it take after finding the bottle? Such a shoddy article!

    October 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Reply
    • Bill

      Yeah, I think what saved them is that the pirates couldn't steer the ship.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Reply
    • pismire

      Exactly Dustin. Journalism is so bad these days. People get paid to write this crap. And we are all the more stupid for having read it.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Reply
    • Steve in NY

      Agreed – poorly written/titled

      October 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Reply
    • playjojo

      It makes no sense that the pirates weren't steering the boat. The owners could have gradually veered anwhere, even if they were being watched.

      October 11, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Reply
    • J

      And it took 6 people to "contribute" to it hahahaha

      October 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Reply
    • Captain Hooker

      Clearly a heartless band of pirates has mercilessly hijacked the facts of this story. We'll be forced to pay a ransom if we want them back.

      October 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Reply
    • Max128

      Yah, the reporting on is the worst I've seen. Their reporters seem like amateurs or students who don't know how to write (e.g. bad sentence structure and story construction, contradictory statements, glaring factual, grammar, and spelling errors, etc). I think they merely summarize news they've read elsewhere on the Internet which even understanding it. Its a real shame.

      The BBC, however, is world-class, top-notch news agency (unlike CNN which reminds me of Kermit the Frog reporting on Sesame Street News). To get the complete story on this pirate hijacking, go to (

      October 11, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Reply
  12. Blah

    Time to go huntin'

    October 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  13. Ethernet

    I know, lets give them to the Dumbs I mean Dems. Then they can start some legislative junk to give them foodstamps, counceling, and start a moritorium on how its our fault that they criminals.

    October 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Reply
    • A "dumb"

      Maybe you should get some "counseling". Or just learn how to spell before you call people dumb.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Reply
    • Duh

      As opposed to the Republitards that will claim it's only because they are black?

      Get a clue...

      October 11, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Reply
    • Samurai Cowboy

      Let's give them to the RepublicaNazi's. They can use them as Gardeners and Servants, pay them $1.00 a day, and then keep it claiming that it all held for the tax cuts for the rich.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Reply
      • Sidewinder

        There you go, mocking those wonderful "Job Creators"! How dare you.

        October 11, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • PoopyPantz

      Stick to your job at Walmart Troll.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Reply
    • Jason

      You don't know what any of the words you use actually mean. That's hilarious.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Reply
    • playjojo

      And there's the idiot who throw in politics.

      October 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Reply
    • John

      'MorAtorium' ('moritorium' is not a word).

      NB: 'Its our fault' should be 'it's our fault'. 'it's' (with the apostrophe) means 'it is'. The possessive of 'it' has no apostrophe (unlike other possessives which often do).

      October 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Reply
  14. Jason B

    Finish off the pirates and you stop the repeat offenders. Eventually the "bosses" run out of hired help.

    October 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Reply
  15. GJW

    I think 620 miles is a long ways to swim. Pirate problem would not take very long to solve when the word got out that when you get caught you swim back.

    October 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  16. palintwit

    Did all you teabagging chumps actually think I was going to run for president? I just wanted your money. Fools.

    October 11, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Reply
    • Ethernet

      OH Troll-E-meau!!!!!!

      October 11, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Reply
      • trigtwit palin... America's favorite tard baby


        October 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • JB!

      awwww, I think someone has a crush

      October 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Reply
    • Sidewinder

      You betcha!!!

      October 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  17. ray

    An short length of rope, a 15 lb anchor should do the trick

    October 11, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  18. skeeter

    If you want to stop the pircay go after their leaders. Killing the peons only creates more job openings.

    October 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  19. Ken in NC

    Ken I can't agree with your idea. I think they should have holes shot into their boat and then allow nature to take it's course. Sharks gotta eat too.

    October 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Reply
  20. Ken

    looks to me they wanted to be caught. I guess life in a foreign jail, then eventual release in a new land is better than home. I say shoot em, and throw them overboard anything else is just encouragement.

    October 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Reply

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