The Royal Australian Air Force has used an AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft to rescue the 23 crew members of a civilian merchant vessel from pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

During the operation, the long-range cameras of the AP-3C aircraft were used to confirm the vessels hijacking.

The Orion aircrew established communications with the crew of the civilian vessel and confirmed that they were in a safe location but in need of assistance.

The aircraft is one of the RAAF’s two AP-3Cs that were called to assist the merchant vessel, after receiving a distress call from the ship.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) operates the two AP-3C aircraft in the Middle East in support of international anti-terrorism and counter-piracy operations.