On the morning of March 9, marine authorities received a distress call from the MV Rak Afrikana stating that they were taking on large amounts of water due to what was described as a “hole in the hull.” The vessel had been released from pirate control only hours earlier.
The EU NAVFOR warship SPS Canarias was immediately sent to assist the stricken vessel and was later joined by the Italian warship ITS Zeffiro which arrived first and carried out the rescue operation. The master of the vessel stated that the ship would probably sink in about 5 hours. 25 crewmembers abandoned the Rak Afrikana and took to the lifeboats. The crew were rescued by Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) from the Italian warship shortly afterward. The SPS Canarias resumed her Counter-Piracy duties once the situation was resolved.
The Rak Afrikana was pirated on 11 April 2010. There is no information on the cause of the damage that led to the distress call. The rescued crew members are reported to be in satisfactory condition considering that they have been held captive for the last 332 days. It is not known if the Rak Afrikana is still afloat at this time.
The rescue operation was coordinated by the EU NAVFOR Headquarters in the UK and needed close cooperation with the Italian Navy to ensure a safe and successful outcome.