Maersk Alabama fights off new attack
U.S.-flag containership Maersk Alabama was attacked once again on Wednesday morning 350 nautical miles east of the Somali Coast while en route to Mombassa, Kenya, according to reports from the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and the European Union’s NAVFOR Somalia.
The ship came under attack from suspected pirates 6:30 a.m. local time about 560 nautical miles off the northeast coast of Somalia.
Four suspected pirates in a skiff came within 300 yards of the ship and fired small arms weapons in an attempt to board the ship. A private security team aboard Maersk Alabama fired back, and used evasive maneuvers and a long-range acoustic device that emits a painful high-frequency sound to cause the pirates to break off their attack.
“Due to Maersk Alabama following maritime industry’s best practices such as embarking security teams, the ship was able to prevent being successfully attacked by pirates,” said Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. “This is a great example of how merchant mariners can take proactive action to prevent being attacked, and why we recommend that ships follow industry best practices if they’re in high-risk areas.”
No injuries or damage were reported aboard Maersk Alabama.
Suspected Somali pirates briefly seized Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia on April 8 and held Capt. Richard Phillips hostage for five days in a lifeboat. U.S. Navy SEALS rescued Phillips on April 12, killing three suspected pirates and taking one into custody.
The EU Maritime Center Horn of Africa said a maritime patrol aircraft from Djibouti was sent to investigate the situation and the closest EU NAVFOR naval vessel was tasked to search for the pirate attack group and “neutralize the area.”
Maritime patrol aircraft stationed in Djibouti take part in the European Union’s “Operation ATALANTA,” whose main tasks are to escort merchant vessels carrying food of the World Food Program, protect vulnerable ships in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean and deter and disrupt piracy.