UPDATE: The crew of the hijacked vessel “Ruen,” belonging to the “NAVIBULGAR” shipping company, remains out of contact, including through satellite phones. Onboard are 18 individuals, including 8 Bulgarians, alongside sailors from Angola and Myanmar. The incident occurred 380 nautical miles east of Socotra Island in the Arabian Sea, and the attackers’ identity—whether rebels or pirates—is yet unknown. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has assembled a specialized team to handle the situation, prioritizing the safety of the crew.

Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, speaking from Brussels, stressed the need for a calm environment for potential negotiations in the next few days. He affirmed that monitoring the situation remains a priority without requiring immediate additional action.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel highlighted the coordination efforts, ensuring relevant partners and institutions are informed and ready to provide assistance in response to the hijacking of the ship with 8 Bulgarian citizens onboard.

A Maltese-flagged ship was boarded yesterday after an incident in the Arabian Sea – off the coast of Socotra Island in Yemen. The ship is for bulk cargo and is Bulgarian property. This was announced by the British maritime security company Ambrey, quoted by BTA.

Meanwhile, an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel in the area had turned off its identification signal six hours before the incident near where the bulk carrier appeared to have gone off course.

“The Iranian-flagged fishing vessel has previously been in the offshore area of Somalia,” added the British company Ambrey.

The UK Maritime Merchant Operations Agency (UKMTO) also sent a message saying it had received a report of a distress call from a vessel boarded by unknown persons east of Bosaso, Somalia. The UKMTO map locates the incident near the Yemeni island of Socotra.

The UKMTO and Ambrey had previously issued briefs saying they were investigating reports of an incident involving a vessel in waters off Yemen.

“The case involves the ship ‘Ruen’ of the NAVIBULGAR”, the director of the company, Alexander Kalchev, told bTV. There are 8 Bulgarians on board, the rest are foreign citizens.

“We expect the kidnappers to contact us. The area where the ship was last detected is not a pirate area,” commented Kalchev.

The ship Ruen was traveling from Singapore to Turkey, port of Gemlik, OFFNews reported

In total, the crew is 18 members. Eight are Bulgarian, the rest of the sailors are from Myanmar and Angola.

The ship owner NAVIBULGAR will only give written information, in order to guarantee the safety of the crew and the ship.

Ruen is one of the newer ships, it was built in 2016. It is identical in parameters to the Rozhen ship, which was blocked in the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk for six months after the start of the war on February 24, 2022 until the beginning of August last year.

“The Bulgarian ship ‘Ruen’, which was hijacked yesterday in the Arabian Sea, did not take the necessary measures and underestimated the considered less risky area near the Yemeni island of Socotra”.

This was stated by Arabist Prof. Vladimir Chukov on BNT. He compared the attack to the hijacking of the Galaxy Leader, whose crew remains unaccounted for.

“About 10 days ago, the Houthis expanded their reach. They said they would attack all ships coming into or going to an Israeli port. Obviously, it’s not just Israeli-owned vessels anymore. The big question in the case of our ship is whether was going to or coming from an Israeli port. This information may have been known to the attackers, but this is not certain. The current hijacking took place in the Arabian Sea, south of the Yemeni coast, close to the Yemeni island of Socotra, between the other one has a UAE naval base there. I’m surprised they allowed this type of boarding. The pattern is similar. An Iranian ship appears and is apparently watching. On board this Iranian ship are the boats used to capture the desired ship and take on boarding,” explained the Arabist.

So far, there is no connection with the crew of the ship “Ruen”.

The vessel is owned by NAVIBULGAR, but sails under the Maltese flag. For BNT, the director of the company, Alexander Kalchev, announced that at the moment the priority is to guarantee the safety of the sailors, for which they continue to work in coordination with the competent international authorities. They are in constant contact with all services responsible for navigation in the area.