U.S. Navy sailors from the guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea rescued 26 crew members of a Liberian-flagged tanker after an attack by pirates off Yemen on Wednesday, according to Navy and media reports.
A rocket-propelled grenade struck the 144,000-ton crude carrier Brilliante Virtuoso in an early-morning pirate attack, setting fire to crew quarters on the vessel, according to a report from Reuters Africa.
"It is understood that the pirates fired RPG into the accommodation area, which started a fire," ship manager Central Mare Inc. said in a statement quoted by Reuters Africa. "As a result the pirates abandoned their efforts to take control of the ship and left the scene, and the master ordered evacuation of all crew members."
The Philippine Sea responded to a distress call from the Brilliante Virtuoso and found the crew of 26 Filipinos in a lifeboat. The U.S. ship did not see any sign of pirates, according to the Combined Maritime Forces, a 25-nation coalition under which the Philippine Sea was operating.
Two tug boats dispatched from Aden were escorting the tanker with its load of a million barrels of fuel oil to safe port, Reuters Africa reported.