Maritime Casualties--November 19, 2009

Maersk Alabama Attacked, Pirates Kill Captain and Tourists Stuck in Antarctic Ice

Maersk Alabama Thwarts Second Attack

For the second time in seven months, Somali pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama on Wednesday on its way to the Kenyan port, Mombasa. The attack was repelled by private guards on board the ship with gunfire and a high-decibel noise device.

Four suspected pirates in a skiff fired automatic weapons on the U.S.-flagged ship 300 meters away around 6:30 a.m. local time Wednesday. An on-board security team thwarted the attack with evasive maneuvers, small-arms fire and a Long Range Acoustic Device, beaming earsplitting tones.

Maersk Alabama is being monitored by U.S. Navy P-3 surveillance aircraft, proceeding to its intended destination safe and secure.

The owners of the ship have spent considerable amounts of money to secure the vessel's pirate-proof status, including structural features, safety equipment and ex-military personnel.

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Pirates Seize Ship and Captain Dies

The captain of a chemical tanker, hijacked 180 nautical miles northwest of the Seychelles, has died from gunshot wounds from the pirate's attack.

The 22,000-tonnes tanker, MV Theresa VIII, was hijacked in the south Somali Basin Monday, carrying 28 North Korean crew. The captain died Tuesday night from gunshot wounds he suffered during the hijack and the ship is now headed for Haradheere.

The Singapore-operated tanker was originally sailing to the Kenyan port of Mombasa but was heading north after being seized near the Indian Ocean archipelago.

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Tourists Stranded in Antarctic Ice Break Free

A Russian icebreaker carrying more than 100 tourists and scientists are finally on the move after being wedged in sea ice since Friday.

The Captain Khlebnikov was on a voyage to see a colony of Emperor penguins near Antarctica's Snow Hill Island, in the Weddell Sea. It was to return to Ushuaia, Argentina two days ago, but now is delayed. The ship had broken through three nautical miles of pack ice since Tuesday and is currently mobile. Winds, visibility problems and snow delayed their arrival into Argentina.

The ship's owner, Fareastern Shipping Company, initially reported the ship was waiting on strong winds to break up the ice pack, but the icebreaker proved to be freeing itself.

Argentinian rescue authorities were notified of the incident, but the ship was not in danger. The captain of the ship said the tourists took advantage of the unplanned stop to tour the surrounding area.