Almost a week after successfully attacking the U.S. ship the Maersk Alabama, Somali pirates attacked another U.S. vessel Tuesday using rocket-propelled grenades and weapons, reports the BBC. This time, however, they were not able to actually get onboard.
The Liberty Sun was carrying food aid near the coast of Somalia when it was attacked. An email from one of the crew members to his mother detailed the incident.
“We are under attack by pirates, we are being hit by rockets, also bullets,” the email from 26-year-old Thomas Urbik read, reports The Associated Press. “We are barricaded in the engine room and so far no one is hurt. [A] rocket penetrated the bulkhead but the hole is small. Small fire, too, but put out.”
Soon after the attack, the ship called for help from the USS Bainbridge, the same warship that rescued U.S. captain Richard Phillips last week. By the time the ship arrived hours later, the pirates had left.
“We are grateful and pleased that no one was injured and the crew and the ship are safe,” the Liberty Maritime Corp said in a statement. The ship was able to continue on its trip to Mombasa, Kenya.
While this attack was unsuccessful, pirates have been able to seize four ships – a Lebanese cargo ship, a Greek vessel and two Egyptian fishing boats – in just the past two days. They have also vowed to avenge the deaths of the three pirates killed during the rescue of Capt. Phillips.
After a slow start this year, ship hijackings have picked up in the region. So far, in 2009, pirates have been able to hijack 19 ships and still have 17 ships, along with 300 crew members, captive. In 2008, shipping companies paid out about $80 million in ransom to Somali pirates.