US ship attacked by Somali pirates escapes captureApril 15th, 2009 - 3:24 pm ICT by IANS
Washington/Nairobi, April 15 (DPA) A US-flagged cargo ship, The Liberty Sun, was steaming to the Kenyan port of Mombasa under US Navy escort Wednesday after escaping an attempted hijacking by Somali pirates.
“The pirates fired rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons at the vessel, which sustained damage,” said a statement from New York-based Liberty Maritime Corporation, the owners of the ship.
An email message from a crewman to his mother after the incident, which happened Tuesday, said the crew of the vessel were safe and under escort.
Senior defence officials were quoted as saying the Liberty Sun was being escorted by the guided missile destroyer USS Bainbridge.
The Bainbridge was also carrying Richard Phillips, the captain of the container ship Maersk Alabama, which was hijacked last Wednesday.
The US crew of the Maersk Alabama fought off pirates who boarded the ship, but Phillips was held hostage for five days on a lifeboat.
He was freed Sunday when US Navy snipers killed the three pirates holding him.
Phillips is due to arrive in Mombasa Wednesday, from where he will fly back to the US with his crew.
On Friday, the captain of a French yacht and two pirates died when French naval forces stormed the boat, freeing four hostages.
Pirate gangs have, however, remained undaunted by the French and US actions.
Since Monday, pirates have seized the Greek MV Irene EM, the Lebanese owned MV Sea Horse and two Egyptian fishing boats.
Pirate activity has picked up in recent weeks after a lull due to bad weather.
Over 20 ships have been attacked in the last three weeks. Nine of those ships are in pirate hands, bringing the total number of ships being held to 17. Almost 300 crew members are being held hostage.
Piracy experts have said they do not expect the attacks to deter pirates from seeking multi-million-dollar ransoms.
On the contrary, there are now fears that pirates will take more extreme action, increasing the chance of further hostage deaths.
Pirate gangs have already vowed to avenge their dead colleagues by targeting US and French citizens.
In 2008, pirates seized more than 40 vessels in and around the Gulf of Aden and collected tens of millions of dollars in ransoms, prompting the international community to send warships to the region.
Around 15 warships from the European Union, a US-led coalition task force and individual countries such as Russia, India and China patrol an area of about 2.85 million sq km.
The presence of the warships has appeared to have had little effect, and observers say that only by tackling insecurity and poverty in Somalia will piracy finally be halted.
- Somali pirates rushing to help comrades in face-off with US Navy - Apr 11, 2009
- US captain's rescue may mean trouble for other hostages - Apr 14, 2009
- Fresh pirate attack on freed vessel, India rushes warship (Second Lead) - Jun 15, 2011
- Indian Navy warship deployed near Somali coast to free sailors - Apr 19, 2011
- U.S. Marines retake hijacked German-owned vessel off the coast of Somalia - Sep 09, 2010
- US captain kidnapped by pirates freed by special forces - Apr 13, 2009
- US Navy reaches ship hijacked by Somali pirates (Lead) - Apr 09, 2009
- Somali pirates negotiate with US Navy over hostage - Apr 10, 2009
- Alabama ship is in Mombasa; FBI sequesters crew, ship - Apr 12, 2009
- Somali pirates release Bulgarian-flagged chemical product tanker after four months - Sep 09, 2010
- Navy thwarts pirate attack on two cargo ships - Sep 26, 2011
- Freed merchant vessel crew safely proceeding to Oman: Government - Jun 15, 2011
- Indian warship thwarts pirate attack on Greek vessel - Jul 19, 2011
- Somali pirates fail to reinforce embattled comrades (Lead) - Apr 12, 2009
- 'Fresh piracy attempt on freed merchant ship, crew safe' (Lead) - Jun 15, 2011
Tags: automatic weapons, bad weather, being held hostage, container ship, crew members, defence officials, destroyer uss, extreme action, fishing boats, guided missile destroyer, liberty sun, lifeboat, lull, mombasa, richard phillips, rocket propelled grenades, sea horse, snipers, somali pirates, uss bainbridge