Despite Attack, Piracy Against Cruises Is Said to Be Rare

Monday, November 14, 2005
The New York Times has reported that the cruise industry is calling the violent attack on a cruise ship off the coast of Somalia on Nov. 5 an aberration. Pirates on two boats reportedly fired rocket-propelled grenades at the Seabourn Spirit, a luxury liner carrying 151 passengers, as it rounded the Horn of Africa last Saturday on its way from Alexandria, Egypt, to Mombasa in Kenya. With the Spirit about 100 miles off the coast, the pirates struck at dawn, injuring one crew member but no passengers, and failing to board. The International Maritime Bureau recommends that ships stay at least 150 miles away from Somalia's coast. Though Somalia is not a typical port of call for cruises, a number pass by the country each year traveling through the Red Sea from Egypt toward the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean. The ship docked in the Seychelles after the attack, then was expected to continue with the rest of its itinerary to Singapore. The International Council of Cruise Lines, said the incident was the first time a cruise ship in the membership was attacked by pirates. Officials said the industry had long had security procedures to protect passengers if attacked. He declined to comment on specific countermeasures. Since March 15, there have been 28 attacks against vessels off the southern and eastern coast of Somalia. After the attack on the Spirit, the National Union of Marine, Aviation and Shipping Transport Officers, based in London, called for more protection for ships sailing by Somalia.

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