Piracy Update: Pirates attack Cruise Liner MS Nautica
The Associated Press is reporting that the MS Nautica, an Oceanic Cruise Lines passenger liner, was en route from Egypt to Oman when two small vessels in the Gulf of Aden attacked it Sunday (Nov. 30, 2008). The ship’s Captain observed the approach of the attackers at approximately 1,000 yards and increased speed. The attacking boats were able to approach within 300 yards, and fired up to eight rifle shots at the Nautica before the larger ship, carrying 656 international passengers and 399 crew members was able to outrun and outmaneuver them. There were no reports of injuries and the Nautica put in to the southern Oman port city of Salalah on Monday morning.
It is not the first time a cruise liner has been attacked. In 2005, pirates opened fire on the Seabourn Spirit about 100 miles (160 kilometers) off the Somali coast. The faster cruise ship managed to escape, and used a long-range acoustic device — which blasts a painful wave of sound — to distract the pirates. The International Maritime Bureau, in London, cited only the 2005 liner attack and a raid on the luxury yacht Le Ponant earlier this year as attacks on passenger vessels off Somalia.
In about 100 attacks on ships off the Somali coast this year, 40 vessels have been hijacked, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Malaysia. Fourteen remain in the hands of pirates along with more than 250 crew members. In two if the most daring attacks, pirates seized a Ukrainian freighter loaded with 33 battle tanks in September, and on Nov. 15, a Saudi oil tanker carrying $100 million worth of crude oil. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Vasyl Kyrylych said Monday that negotiations with Somali pirates holding the cargo ship MV Faina are nearly completed, the Interfax news agency reported.
One solution to the increasing threat of Priacy has been the use of “Modern Privateers” – private security providers contacted to shipping companies. Private security contractor Blackwater Worldwide is meeting with shipping and insurance companies this week to describe what the company can do to protect vessels traveling through the volatile Gulf of Aden.
Blackwater is holding meetings in London from Tuesday to Thursday. Company spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said the meeting is being held because at least 70 companies have contacted Blackwater about protection services. However, the Moyock-based firm doesn’t have any contracts yet.
This article reflects my own views, and not those of the U.S. Navy or my employer.