MSC Cruises reports that MSC Melody successfully evaded an attack by pirates Saturday evening (April 25, 2009) at approximately 7:35pm GMT (3:35pm eastern time in the US).
MSC said that when the ship came under attack, it initiated avoidance procedures and quickly escaped the pirates. They characterized the encounter as being "relatively brief." There were no injuries to the approximately 1500 passengers and crew, and damage to the ship was "not significant." The line immediately informed the Italian government foreign office, the Maritime Security Center in London and the Coordination Center for Security in Dubai.
The line does confirm that they came under automatic weapon fire from the small boat, and confirms the security force aboard MSC Melody repelled the pirates with fire hoses and evasive maneuvering by the bridge, but does not confirm that the ship's security forces returned the pirates' fire.
The attack came when MSC Melody was approximately 200 miles north of Port Victoria in the Seychelles and almost 700 miles off the Somali coast. As a precaution, a military vessel from the international security forces in the region is escorting MSC Melody as it continues on its scheduled itinerary to its next port of Aqaba, Jordan. Its published schedule shows it due to arrive there on Saturday.
MSC Melody is on a 21-day repositioning voyage that is taking it from South Africa to the Mediterranean which necessitates it travel through the area. It was sailing a revised routing at the suggestion of the International Maritime Organization to avoid the area where pirates were known to be operating. The revised itinerary, reported in Cruise News Daily on April 17, took MSC Melody about 400 miles off its planned itinerary and caused several changes in its ports of call to accommodate the longer distance. This indicates the expanding scope of the pirate operations in the Indian Ocean.
Additional elements of the story will appear in the April 27 edition of Cruise News Daily.
Last updated April 26, 10:56pm
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