British and US naval forces have rescued 23 hostages from an Italian ship hijacked by Somali pirates.
The 56,000-tonne bulk carrier Montecristo was hijacked 620 miles (1,000km) off Somalia on Monday, according to the owners.
The Royal Navy boarded the ship and met no resistance, before detaining 11 suspected pirates, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said.
Italy’s foreign ministry expressed “great satisfaction” with the rescue.
Members of the crew – seven Italians, 10 Indians and six Ukrainians – were said to be safe.
The D’Alessio Group-owned cargo ship, carrying scrap metal, had been making its way from Liverpool to Vietnam when it was intercepted by pirates.
However, crew members were able to lock themselves in a strong room from where they could control the engine and steer.
A UK Ministry of Defence spokesman said the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Fort Victoria and a US frigate were sent to help the seized vessel.
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All the expectations are that we will see more of this in the coming weeks and months because the monsoon season has ended ”
BBC world affairs correspondent
“We can confirm that late this morning the RFA Fort Victoria, currently on Nato counter-piracy operations east of Suez, responded to calls to assist a pirated Italian merchant ship, the MV Montecristo, along with an American navy frigate,” he said.
“Due to the presence of the warships, 11 suspected pirates on-board the pirated vessel surrendered without force.”
Italian defence minister Ignazio La Russa said UK and US forces had used helicopters as part of the rescue mission.
The suspected pirates would be handed over to Italian authorities, he said.