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April 27, 2009

Cruise ship returns fire and pirates flee

Another weekend of weather favorable to pirate activity saw the seizure on Saturday morning of the Maltese flag geared bulker Patriot, operated by Germany's Reederei Johann M. K. Blumenthal Gmbh. The same day, pirates also hijacked an empty Yemeni tanker. Three of them were killed when Yemeni commandos retook the ship this morning.

The headline grabbing news, though, was that MSC Cruises Melody eluded a pirate attack after its Israeli private security guards fired pistol shots.

MSC Cruises did not mention that detail in a press release that said only:

MSC cruises confirms that the Melody cruise ship was attacked by pirates near the Seychelles Islands on Saturday evening, April 25, 2009. The ship initiated avoidance procedures and quickly escaped the attack with no injuries to any of the approximately 1,000 passengers and 500 crew members onboard.

The pirates approached the ship in a small speedboat firing automatic weapons at 7:35 pm GMT while the ship was sailing 180 nautical miles from Port Victoria in the Seychelles. MSC Cruises immediately informed the Italian government foreign office (La Farnesina), the Maritime Security Center in London and the Coordination Center for Security in Dubai.

A military vessel from the international security forces in the region has been sent to escort the Melody as a precaution, and the ship is continuing to Aqaba, Jordan, on its scheduled itinerary.

A much more interesting report from the BBC includes the fact that besides armed security guards and fire hoses, the pirates also had to contend with passengers throwing chairs at them. Read it HERE

Meantime, Yemen's 26sep.net reports that a Yemeni navy commando unit stormed a hijacked ship at 5.30 am Monday and killed three pirates, injured two and arrested four others, according to a source in the defense ministry.

The commandos found four members of the crew and one Indian national wounded by fire from the pirates.

The ship, the Qana belonging to Aden Refineries Corporation is on its way back to al-Mukala escorted by Yemeni naval forces.

Sixteen Somali pirates had hijacked the empty tanker on Sunday, as it was sailing from al-Mukala port to city of Aden. The hijacking was 10 nautical miles off Belhaf port in Shabwa province.


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