The M/S Nautica, a luxury cruise liner from Florida carrying 656 passengers and 399 crew members were sailing through the prescribed safety corridor in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday when six bandits aboard two speedboats chased and opened fire.
The cruise ship owned Oceania Cruises Inc. was able to speed away and outrun the pirates. All the passengers and crew were reported safe.
The Nautica was headed from Egypt to Oman when it encoutered the pirates. The liner was in the middle of a 32-day cruise from Rome to Singapore, which includes stops at ports in Italy, Egypt, Oman, Dubai, India, Malaysia and Thailand.
This year alone has seen about 100 attacks on ships off the Somali coast where 40 vessels have been hijacked, Choong said. Fourteen of these vessels remain in the custody of these pirates along with more than 250 crew members.
A few months ago, pirates seized a Ukrainian freighter loaded with 33 Russian-made battle tanks in September, and on Nov. 15, The Sirius Star, a Saudi oil super-tanker carrying $100 million worth of crude oil.
An Indian navy warship has sunk a Somali pirate “mother ship”, after the renegades threatened to attack the frigate. Warships under a multi-national U.S.-led initiative continues to patrol the area, creating a security corridor in the region, but the attacks seem to not have diminished.
The security in the area has been at its most weakest due the lack of a functional government in war-torn Somalia which has been torn apart by 18 years of civil war. This situation has attracted pirates who seek shelter along the Somali coast.