Hanjin Container Ship Attacked by Pirates Near Gulf of Aden; Fate Unknown

Hanjin Shipping Co., South Korea’s largest shipping company, said one of its container vessels was attacked by pirates near the Gulf of Aden, prompting the Asian country’s military to send a warship to the area.

The Hanjin Tianjin, which can carry 6,500 20-foot containers, was attacked 250 miles (402 kilometers) east of the Yemeni island of Socotra around 5:15 a.m. today Korea time, the Seoul-based company said in an e-mailed statement. There are 20 crewmembers on board the ship, it said.

“We suspect the vessel may have been hijacked,” South Korea’s foreign ministry spokesman Cho Byung Jae told reporters today in Seoul. The Choi Young destroyer has been dispatched, he said, without elaboration.

Hanjin Shipping is still working to determine the fate of the vessel, which was heading to Singapore from Europe, it said.

The company fell 1.6 percent to close at 30,050 won in Seoul trading after dropping as much as 4.8 percent. The benchmark Kospi index rose 1.3 percent.

An increase in pirate attacks, spurred by a 36-fold jump in ransoms in five years, has threatened vessels carrying 20 percent of world trade and raised expenses for shippers. Costs linked to piracy may reach $13 billion to $15 billion by 2015 as global trade rebounds and pirates operate over wider areas, according to consultants Geopolicity Inc.

The Choi Young destroyer rescued a South Korean chemical ship in January after the vessel, which had 21 crewmembers on board, was hijacked by Somali pirates. Five pirates captured in the mission are awaiting trial in South Korea.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kyunghee Park in Singapore at kpark3@bloomberg.net; Bomi Lim in Seoul at blim30@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at ndenslow@bloomberg.net; Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net

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