Pirates near Somalia chased and shot at a U.S. cruise liner with more than 1,000 people on board but failed to hijack the vessel, a maritime official said Tuesday.
The liner, carrying 656 international passengers and 399 crew members, was sailing in the Malaysia.on Sunday when it encountered six pirates in two speedboats, said Noel Choong who heads the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in
By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY, Associated Press Writer
The pirates fired at the passenger liner but the larger boat was faster than the pirates’ vessels, Choong said.
“It is very fortunate that the liner managed to escape,” he said, urging all ships to remain vigilant in the area.
The Bahrain, said it was aware of the failed hijacking but did not have further details.‘s 5th Fleet, based in
Ship owner. identified the vessel as the M/S Nautica.
In a statement on its Web site, the company said pirates fired eight rifle shots at the liner as it sailed along a maritime corridor patrolled by an international naval coalition, but that the ship’s captain increased speed and managed to outrun the skiffs. All passengers and crew are safe and there was no damage to the vessel, it said.
From Cruise Critic:
On November 30, 2008, at approximately 0928 local time, 0528 GMT, M/S NAUTICA was transiting through the Gulf of Aden within the prescribed Maritime Safety Protection Area which is patrolled by international anti-piracy task forces. As the vessel sailed past several groups of non-hostile fishing vessels, two small skiffs were sighted by the Officer on Duty and deemed potentially hostile. The skiffs, approaching from a range of approximately 1000 meters, attempted to intercept the vessel’s course.
“Captain Jurica Brajcic and his officers immediately began evasive maneuvers and took all prescribed precautions. NAUTICA was immediately brought to flank speed and was able to out run the two skiffs. One of the skiffs did manage to close the range to approximately 300 yards and fired eight rifle shots in the direction of the vessel before trailing off. No one aboard NAUTICA was harmed and no damage was sustained.
“All guests and crew onboard are safe and there were no injuries. All requisite international authorities have been notified and all anti-piracy precautions were in place prior to the event and all necessary measures were taken during the event.”
The Gulf of Aden lies between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. Bordered by Djibouti and Somalia to the south west, and Yemen, to the north, this waterway is a mere 18 miles wide at its narrowest point (the Bab el Mandab Strait). It’s one of the most dangerous places in the world for ships, cargo and cruise vessels alike, to pass through due to increased piracy in the area.
This is actually the second time this year that pirates have zeroed in on a cruise ship. Le Ponant, a three masted luxury vessel, was seized in April by Somali pirates. That vessel was carrying 30 crew members — though no passengers — and after an eight day standoff those onboard were rescued. The ship ultimately was also rescued and pirates were captured.
Seabourn Spirit successfully outran a pirate attack in December 2005.
Most cruise ships that transit this most dangerous of international waterways are equipped with anti-piracy weaponry. A cruise captain whose ship traveled from the Mediterranean to the Seychelles already this fall, told Cruise Critic that particularly effective is a sonic device that is in essence like a heavy duty stereo speaker. It sends a sonic wave out to a directed target, punishing with a sound so potentially powerful that it bursts eardrums and shocks pirates into dropping weapons and losing focus.
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