Guards, overwhelmed by Somali pirates, abandon ship
Three private security guards jumped overboard and were rescued from the Gulf of Aden on Friday after pirates swarmed the commercial vessel they were trying to protect.
The security team aboard the chemical tanker Biscaglia used non-lethal means of defense but could not fend off the pirates until coalition naval forces patrolling the region could respond to distress calls, said Nick Davis, director of Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions (APMSS), in a statement posted on the company’s Web site.
APMSS, formed last July in response to the proliferation of piracy off Somalia's coast, is staffed by former British Royal Marines specializing in maritime security. Davis said onboard teams have successfully fought off three similar attacks on other vessels using non-lethal force.
In Friday’s attack, the pirates continued to fire on the guards while they were in the water and then tried to run over them with the hijacked vessel, he said. All three guards escaped injury.
“I have spoken with my team leader on the phone and he informs me that the level of violence was unprecedented and forced them reluctantly to leave the vessel after every effort was made to ensure the safety of the ships crew,” Davis said.
The hijacked vessel was taken to a safe haven in the Puntland region of Somalia, APMSS said.
The security guards were airlifted to safety by a German naval helicopter and flown to a French frigate, according to CNN.
The Biscaglia is managed by Singapore-based Ishima and owned by Winged Foot Shipping in the Marshall Islands and was crewed by 25 Indians and two Bangladeshis who are believed to be still onboard, the news organization said in an online report.
Also Friday, pirates released the Greek ship Centauri, which was hijacked in September off the Somalia Coast, according to Andrew Mwangura, the head of the Kenya Seafarers Association.
On Sunday, pirates attacked a luxury cruise ship, but press reports said the Oceania Nautica was able to outrun the attackers who reportedly fired rifles at the vessel.
The ship, operated by Miami-based Oceania Cruises, was traveling from Rome to Singapore and carries about 684 passengers and 400 crew. According to USA Today it had 310 U.S. citizens and 212 Canadians onboard.