Brillante Virtuoso

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Sailors from USS "Philippine Sea" rescue the crew of the "Brillante Virtuoso"
Sailors from USS Philippine Sea rescue the crew of the Brillante Virtuoso
  • St. Romauld (1992)
  • Nandu (1992–2005)
  • Stainless (2005–2008)
  • Brillante Virtuoso (2008–2011)
Owner: Suez Fortune Investment Ltd., Greece
Port of registry: Marshall Islands
Builder: Samsung Shipbuilding & Heavy Industries, Geoje, South Korea
In service: 1992
Out of service: 2011
Identification:IMO number9014822
Fate: Scrapped[1]
General characteristics [2]
Type: Oil Tanker
  • 80,569 GT
  • 149,601 DWT
Length: 274 m (898 ft 11 in)
Beam: 48 m (157 ft 6 in)
Draught: 16 m (52 ft 6 in)
Crew: 26

M/V Brillante Virtuoso was a Greek-owned, Liberian-flagged suezmax tanker allegedly attacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden on 6 July 2011.

Ship history[edit]

The ship was built by Samsung Shipbuilding & Heavy Industries in Geoje, South Korea, in 1992. Originally named St. Romauld, she was soon renamed Nandu, then to Stainless in 2005, before becoming Brilliante Virtuoso in 2008. In 2011 she was registered in the Marshall Islands, and flying the flag of Liberia.[2]

Early on 6 July 2011, the ship was en route from Kerch, Ukraine, to Qingdao, China, with a cargo of fuel oil worth $100 million.[3][4] Having transited the Suez Canal, and being approximately 20 nautical miles (37 km; 23 mi) south west of Aden, she reported being under attack by Somali pirates with small arms and a rocket-propelled grenade which had started a fire in the accommodation block of the ship's superstructure, and that the crew were abandoning ship. The guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea, operating as part of the Combined Maritime Forces, responded and rescued the crew of 26, all Filipinos, but found no evidence of pirates.[5] The ship's owners, Suez Fortune Investment Ltd., based in Greece, sent two tugboats from Aden to extinguish the fire and tow the vessel to safety.[3] Subsequent surveys showed no signs of RPG damage or small arms fire penetration from outside, but evidence that AK-47s had been fired inside the ship.[6]

David Mockett, a British marine shipping surveyor and consultant, who was investigating the incident, was reported to have believed that the attack on Brillante Virtuoso was carried out by a criminal gang as part of an insurance fraud. Mockett was killed by a car bomb in Yemen in July 2011.[1][7][8]

On 7 October 2019, a High Court judge, Mr Justice Teare, ruled after a 52 day trial of the claim brought against the vessel's war risk underwriters that the so-called pirate attack was no such thing, and that the whole enterprise was a fake, orchestrated and instigated by the vessel's beneficial owner, Marios Iliopoulos, who was at the time experiencing significant financial difficulties. Co-conspirators included the master and chief engineer of the vessel, the local salvors, Poseidon Salvage (in particular Vassilios Vergos), and the hired "pirates", who were in fact present or former members of the Yemeni coast guard or navy.[9]


  1. ^ a b "The Hijacking of a $100 Million Supertanker". Retrieved 2017-07-29.
  2. ^ a b "Brillante Virtuoso". 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Major Oil Disaster Averted in Gulf of Aden". International News Magazine. 7 July 2011. Archived from the original on 31 May 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  4. ^ Chellel, Kit; Campbell, Mathew (27 July 2017). "The Hijacking of the Brillante Virtuoso". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  5. ^ "CMF Ship USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) rescues crew from Brilliante Virtuoso". U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. 6 July 2011. Archived from the original on 19 March 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  6. ^ Mwangura, Andrew (15 July 2011). "Weekly Piracy Report". Archived from the original on 10 June 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Briton killed for standing up to pirate fraud gang". The Daily Telegraph. London: TMG. 28 June 2012. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  8. ^ Parsons, Chris (29 June 2012). "British investigator was blown up in car bomb by Aden crime gang who feared he would expose their Somali pirate ship fraud scam". Mail Online. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  9. ^

External links[edit]

Media related to Brilliante Virtuoso (ship, 1992) at Wikimedia Commons