Story Url: http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24737999-5012751,00.html
By Lee Taylor and wires
December 02, 2008 11:49am
- Cruise ship fired on by pirates
- Up to 50 Australians on board
- Giant vessel outruns pirate skiffs
AUSTRALIANS onboard a luxury cruise ship were
ordered to stay in their cabins and lock all doors as pirates attacked
the tourist vessel.
The captain of the six-star ship Nautical
made the announcement as the pirates came within a few hundred metres and fired shots at the giant liner. Ocean Cruises'
ship, carrying 684 passengers – including up to 50 Australians – and
400 crew, was passing fishing boats when the pirate vessels tried to
intercept it in the Gulf of Aden, between Somalia and Yemen.
"The captain made an announcement that he had identified two
suspicious vessels in the water and asked all guests to come in from
any open deck spaces," said Tim Rubacky, a spokesman for Oceania
"Guests were ordered into the interior of the vessel and told to close any open doors on to the balconies."
Mr Rubacky said eight shots were fired in the direction of the vessel, but none struck.
After notifying the International Piracy Taskforce in the region, Nautical
managed to escape by outrunning the pirates.
"We have multiple anti-piracy techniques and in this situation it
was as simple as taking the vessel to full speed and putting as much
distance between us and the pirates as possible," said Mr Rubacky.
No injuries were reported and a Danish Navy spokesman Jesper Lynge
said a tactical command led a military operation to prevent an act of
According to Danish TV2 News, six to eight armed pirates on two boats were observed speeding toward the Nautica
A French navy warship, alerted by the Danish Navy, scrambled a
helicopter to the scene, which sent the pirates fleeing, TV2 News said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
confirmed up to 50 Australians were onboard the cruise ship, and the
Australian Embassy is attempting to make contact with passengers to
offer any consular assistance required.
Figures released by the International Maritime Bureau reveal the
number of pirate attacks is increasing dramatically, with 90 pirate
attacks reported off East Africa so far in 2008.
Last month twelve crewmembers onboard a fishing vessel in the Gulf of Aden was taken hostage and had their vessel hijacked.
In April the cruise ship Le Ponant
was seized by Somali pirates, who took all 30 crew members hostage.
Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of Cruise Critic, said the narrow
waterway is one of the most dangerous places in the world for cruise
vessels to pass through due to increased piracy in the area.
But Mr Rubacky said the Gulf of Aden remains the most viable gateway
between the Mediterranean and Asia, and Ocean Cruises will continue to
use the route despite the dangers.
"Will we change the route? Absolutely not," he said.
"The only other option is to feature itineraries that cruise down
the west coast of Africa and there's a reason why few cruise lines
offer such trips. It adds an additional 20-30 days to an already
lengthy trip," he said.
The attack hasn't stopped the holiday and Mr Rubacky said the Nautica
will continue with its itinerary, arriving in Sydney for the New Year celebrations.
"The vessel is making its way to Singapore and will swing her way
down to Sydney for the Christmas and New Year holiday, before heading
over to New Zealand."