Pirates fire on US cruise ship in hijack attempt
A US cruise ship carrying more than 1,000 people was targeted at the weekend by pirates off the coast of Somalia, maritime officials say. Two small boats chased and fired shots at the Nautica eight times, but failed to board the vessel. Her captain, Jurica Brajcic, manoeuvred away from the pirates and increased speed to outrun them. The Nautica, with 656 passengers and 399 crew, was in waters patrolled by a multinational task force. The ship was on a 32-day cruise from Rome to Singapore when it was attacked at 0930 local time (0630) on Sunday in the Gulf of Aden. Oceania Cruises, the Miami-based company which owns the Nautica, described the events leading to the incident on their website. "The skiffs, approaching from a range of approximately 1,000 metres, attempted to intercept the vessel's course," it said. "Captain Jurica Brajcic and his officers immediately began evasive manoeuvres and took all prescribed precautions." Helicopter scrambled The Times in London quotes a spokesman for the Danish Navy, which has current responsibility for maritime safThe Nautica is the largest, though not the first, cruise ship to be targeted by pirates off the Somali coast. In April this year, pirates seized Le Ponant, a luxury liner with 30 people on board. They were eventually freed after an eight day stand-off. ety in that area, saying that a vessel was called on to aid the Nautica. Pirates are still holding a Saudi tanker, the Sirius Star, and its cargo of 2m barrels of oil off the Somali coast.