The EU Naval Force, which was currently operating off the coast of Somalia, has received positive confirmation from the master of the "Aris 13" that his ship and crew were currently being held captive by a number of suspected armed pirates in an anchorage off the north coast of Puntland, close to Alula. The attack came shortly after the master issued a mayday alert to say that two skiffs were closing in on his ship in the Gulf of Aden. Upon receipt of the mayday alert, an EU Naval Force maritime patrol aircraft was launched from its base in Djibouti to overfly the tanker and make radio contact with the ship’s master. Despite hailing the ship several times, no contact was made and the situation on board remained unclear until late this afternoon, when the EU Naval Force operational HQ in London was able to make telephone contact with the ship’s master. The master confirmed that armed men were on board his ship and they were demanding a ransom for the ship’s release. The EU Naval Force has now passed the information regarding the incident to the ship’s owners. All available EU Naval Force assets were continuing to monitor the situation. The "Aris 13" was preparing to cut through the Socotra Gap between the tip of Somalia and the island of Socotra, a route which is frequently used as a cost- and time-saving measure for vessels traveling down the east coast of Africa despite the threat of piracy. Additionally the "Aris" 13 had a low freeboard of only three meters and was moving at a slow speed of five knots. These factors made the vessel an easier target for pirates, who typically board ships with ladders from fast moving skiffs.