Liberty Maritime ship escapes pirate attack
Another U.S. merchant ship was attacked by Somali pirates Tuesday, but while the ship was damaged, there were no injuries and the attackers were repelled by U.S. Navy forces.
Liberty Maritime Corp. of Lake Success, N.Y., said its ship, the 64,000-deadweight-ton bulker Liberty Sun was attacked by pirates firing rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons while en route to Mombasa, Kenya from Houston, carrying American food aid cargo.
Liberty said the vessel had discharged thousands of tons of American food aid cargo in Port Sudan earlier last week, and was continuing its voyage to Kenya with additional food aid when it came under fire from the Somali pirates. Reports said the ship was 300 miles off the coast of Somalia.
“No one was injured and the crew and the ship are safe,” the company said. “We have communicated with the families of the crew to inform them of these developments. We commend the entire crew for its professionalism and poise under fire.”
According to e-mails sent by Liberty Sun crewmember Thomas Urbik during the attack, the ship was hit by rockets, causing a small fire that was extinguished. The e-mails, excerpted on the Web sites of several television networks, reported that crewmembers had barricaded themselves in the engine room during the attack before the Navy “showed up in full force” and escorted the ship.
There have been reports that the USS Bainbridge, the ship involved in rescuing the Maersk Alabama, was on site within hours.
Meanwhile, pirates on Tuesday captured a 35,000-ton Greek-owned bulk carrier, the Irene EM, according to the European Union's Maritime Security Center. The 22-man crew is believed to be unhurt and ships have been warned to stay clear of the area to prevent further attacks, the Center said.
Pirates also commandeered the 5,000-ton Sea Horse, a Lebanese-owned and Togo-flagged vessel, a NATO officer said, according to CNN. And two Egyptian fishing boats fell into pirate hands on Monday, it reported.