Friday, December 26, 2008
A German warship and helicopter Thursday succeeded in foiling an attempt by pirates to board an Egyptian bulk carrier travelling in the troubled Gulf of Aden off Somalia's coast. The ship, which had 31 crew aboard, was headed for an Asian port from the Egyptian port of Suez when pirates approached the vessel and started firing at crew members, said Noel Choong, head of the anti-piracy International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur. Crew members immediately called for aid from international coalition forces patrolling the Somalia waters, said Choong. 'The pirates were randomly firing at the ship, resulting in one of the crew members sustaining injuries to his leg,' he said. However, before the pirates could board the ship, a German naval warship and helicopter, responding to the call for help, arrived at the scene and managed to chase off the pirates.Later, the helicopter returned to the Egyptian carrier and airlifted the injured crewmember onto the warship, said Choong. While the IMB hailed the success in thwarting Thursday's attack, Choong warned that pirate activity continued to grow in Somali waters, particularly the Gulf of Aden. Earlier this month, a Malaysian warship and helicopter succeeded in warding off an attack on a Chinese vessel after responding to an emergency call. 'In spite of the increase in naval activity, the pirates are still attacking ships,' Choong said. 'We understand the coalition forces cannot be everywhere, but while they are patrolling in one place, the pirates are attacking elsewhere.' There have been 110 pirate attacks in Somali waters this year. Somali pirates have hijacked 42 vessels, with many of the seizures taking place in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest waterways. Of the 42 ships, 14 vessels remain in pirate custody, with more than 240 crewmembers still being held, the IMB said.