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Maritime Casualties--October 8, 2009

Pirates Attack French Military Flagship.

Somali pirates attempted an attack on the French navy flagship, La Somme, in the Indian Ocean after mistaking it for a cargo vessel.

The pirates were on two vessels and opened fire with rifles. The pirates tried to flee once they realized their mistake but were pursued by French forces for over an hour. The crew repelled the night-time assault by lightly armed fighters on two skiffs and captured five of the pirates. The second pirate skiff escaped.

The 18,000 tonne, 525-foot command vessel and fuel tanker is in the Indian Ocean overseeing French air, sea and land forces and operating 250 nautical miles off the Somali coast. The ship was on its way to resupply fuel to ships patrolling shipping lanes as part of the European Union's Operation Atalanta anti-piracy mission.

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Two Cargo Ships Collide in Aegean Sea; One Sailor Dead.

A Greek sailor has died after two cargo ships collided in the eastern Aegean Sea and one vessel sank. The ships collided early Sunday morning southeast of Mykonos.

Greece's Captain Michalis sank immediately after colliding with the Maltese-flagged ship, the Santana. Eight of the sunken ship's crew of nine were rescued by a third cargo ship and the injured captain of Michalis was hospitalized. The dead sailor was later recovered during a rescue operation.

The Captain Michalis was en route to Mykonos while the Santana was headed to Thailand from Ukraine. The Santana is now heading to Syros for investigation.
 

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Turkish Ship Released from Pirates for Ransom.

Somali pirates released the Turkish cargo ship Horizon-1 and its crew of 23 on Monday. The ship and its crew had been held for about three months.

A warship is accompanying the vessel to a secure zone and will continue on to the Jordanian port of Aqaba on the Red Sea, which was the ship's original destination.

In early September, the pirates demanded a ransom of $20 million, although the amount to free the ship is not being disclosed.

The vessel was sailing from Saudi Arabia to Jordan with a cargo of 33,000 cubic meters of sulphide when it was seized on July 8. Pirates directed the ship to the port of Eyl in Somlia's Puntland region.