An American cruise ship sailing in the Gulf of Aden managed to escape an attack on Sunday by pirates in speed boats. The M/S Nautica with more than 1,000 passengers on board was chased and shot at as it sailed along in waters that are patrolled by international warships.
The ship’s captain ordered passengers inside and gave the engines full throttle, which allowed the ship to eventually outrun the pirates, and avoid a dangerous confrontation. No injuries were reported from the 656 passengers and 399 crew members on board and there was no structural damage to the ship.
On its web site, Oceania Cruises Inc. said that the pirates fired eight rifle shots at the liner but that the ships captain increased speed and managed to outrun them. Tim Rudacky, a spokesman for Oceania, said “Within five minutes, the whole ordeal was over.”
The Nautica was on a 32-day cruise from Rome to Singapore, with stops in Italy, Egypt, and Thailand. The Ship was in route from Egypt to Oman when the pirates attacked. More than 100 attacks on ships have been reported this year alone. Forty vessels have been hijacked and more than 250 crew members are still being held captive by pirates, mostly of Somali origin.
In September, pirates seized a Ukrainian freighter with a payload of 33 battle tanks. In November a Saudi oil tanker carrying $100 million worth of crude oil. A spokesman for the Somali pirates said that they would release the Ukrainian ship within two days.
The Associated Press reported that a ransom agreement had been reached for the Ukrainian ship. Details were not disclosed, but the pirates had originally asked for $20 million when the freighter, the Faina, was first hijacked.
The piracy trade seems to be a very beneficial line of work in Somalia. Lawlessness and desperation have led to a huge growth in the number of hijackings and Somali officials say that the profits from these illegal hijackings could reach $50 million or more this year alone, and its all tax free.
With large profits and low arrest rates, the high-seas piracy trade is much too hard to resist for many Somali men. In fact, piracy is one of the very few industries in Somalia that pays well; and with the worsening economic situation it will inevitably grow. As a result, the waters around the Somali shore have been turned into the most dangerous shipping lanes in the world.