Somali pirates have hijacked a German tanker with 13 crew members and a cargo of liquified petroleum gas.
The company that owns the ship, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, said seven pirates boarded and seized the tanker Thursday in the Gulf of Aden. It said the ship, called the MT Longchamp, is now on its way to Somalia.
The company said it was allowed brief communication with the ship's master, and that it appears all crew members are safe. The crew has 12 Filipinos and an Indonesian.
This is the third ship seized by Somali pirates this year. Pirates hijacked more than 40 in 2008, leading several nations to set up naval patrols in the Gulf of Aden and Somalia's Indian Ocean coast.
On Wednesday, Japan ordered its navy to begin preparations to join the patrols. Japanese naval ships could be dispatched to the Gulf of Aden as early as March, after a bill outlining their mission is approved by parliament.