The 41,000 ton container carrier Argolokos, the first ship built by Hanjin Heavy Industries
A South Korean container ship has been attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean and gone missing, its owner said Thursday.
The 75,000-ton Hanjin Tianjin with 14 South Koreans and six Indonesians on board reported an attack at 5.15am Thursday Korean time (2015 GMT Wednesday), Seoul-based Hanjin Shipping said in a statement.
"We have been informed that today our mother vessel... has been attacked by the pirates near the Gulf of Aden while heading to Singapore," said the nation's largest shipping company.
According to AFP, the shipper had lost contact with the crew since the attack 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of the Yemeni island of Socotra near the Gulf of Aden, a Hanjin spokeswoman said.
The ship's last port call was in Gibraltar. It can carry 6,500 containers.
A South Korean destroyer, the Choi Young, which patrols the pirate-infested waters off Somalia, is racing towards the scene, YTN news channel quoted a military official as saying.
Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff declined to confirm the YTN report, saying they were still gathering information.
South Korean navy commandos in January staged a dramatic raid on a ship captured by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea and rescued all 21 crew members.
The five pirates captured at the scene have been brought to South Korea and face charges of attempted murder and robbery in court hearings next month.
That raid came two months after a South Korean shipping firm reportedly paid a record $9 million for the release of its supertanker and 24 sailors held by Somali pirates for seven months.
Piracy has surged off the lawless east African nation in recent years and international warships patrol the area.
But despite the increased international presence, piracy hit an all-time high in the first three months of 2011 with 142 attacks worldwide, the International Maritime Bureau said in a report this month.