A TANKER was seized in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday but has since been released, US officials told media.

An unidentified armed group attacked the Liberian-flagged chemical tanker Central Park (9725823) off the coast of Yemen.

A US official, speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, said the navy warship USS Mason had responded to the tanker’s distress call and the vessel was now free.

Central Park is managed by Zodiac Maritime, a London-headquartered international ship management company owned by Israel’s Ofer family, according to Reuters.

Zodiac Maritime said in a statement (cited by Reuters) that Central Park, carrying a full cargo of phosphoric acid, was involved in a suspected piracy incident while crossing international waters.

“Our priority is the safety of our 22 crew onboard. The Turkish captained vessel has a multinational crew consisting of a crew of Russian, Vietnamese, Bulgarian, Indian, Georgian and Filipino nationals,” the statement said.

The incident follows the recent hijacking of ro-ro vessel Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea by Yemen’s Houthis and the subsequent diversion of two other vessels in the area.

International Maritime Organization secretary-general Kitack Lim on Friday voiced “grave concerns” regarding the seizure of Galaxy Leader and its crew.

“I express my sincerest hope that the seafarers will be released, as soon as possible,” he said.

“I would like to emphasise that unhindered and safe global navigation is a prerequisite for maintaining the world’s supply chains thus it is essential to ensure the protection of seafarers, vessels and cargo at all times.”

Mr Lim said any action which might adversely affect shipping engaged in international trade must be avoided.