Thursday, December 04, 2008

400 Australians Safe After Cruise Ship Stand-Off

Almost 400 Australians are safe and well after a cruise ship, bound for Perth, was surrounded by more than 20 boats south of the Gulf of Aden. Classic International Cruises says the tuna fishing boats surrounded the MV Athena earlier this week. Grant Hunter, the director of cruise company Classic International Cruises, says staff used hoses to keep the boats away from the ship and passengers were asked to remain in their cabins. There has been speculation that the incident could have been linked to attacks by Somali pirates in the same area.
MV Athena
But Mr Hunter says it is still not clear what the intentions were of those in the tuna boats. He says the ship was sailing with other cruise liners when the incident occurred. "The little ships darted in amongst some of the ships," he said. "At no time did they attempt to make any attack on any of the vessels, none of the vessels were attempted to be boarded." "There wasn't any identification if they were pirates or that type," he said. "They were smallish vessels and they contained six-odd people in each - some of our passengers actually had their binoculars on them." The ship is scheduled to dock in Fremantle, in Western Australia, later this month.

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