14 April 2009

Incident: Liberty Sun attacked

A U.S. owned cargo ship laden with food aid, the Liberty Sun, is attacked en route to Mombasa in the Indian Ocean. A crewman, emailing his mother, said the ship was attacked with automatic rifle fire and "rockets" (RPGs). He said one grenade “penetrated the bulkhead but the hole is small. Small fire, too, but put out.” The ship's "evasive maneuvers" foiled the pirates.

The USS Bainbridge, a destroyer, responded to the distress call arriving five hours late. The Bainbridge had been diverted from taxi duty (delivering ex-hostage Captain Phillips of the Maersk Alabama to dry land) to anti-piracy duty when the distress call arrives.

Update (04/15/09):

Pirate commander Abdi Garad says the attack on Liberty Sun was intended to destroy her. "This attack was the first against our prime target," he said, adding "The aim of this attack was totally different. We were not after a ransom. We also assigned a team with special equipment to chase and destroy any ship flying the American flag in retaliation for the brutal killing of our friends." (AFP, 04/15/09)

The pirate attack-with-intention-to-destroy negated assurances given by US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen over the weekend. Addressing pirate reprisal threats, he said, "I certainly take their [pirate] comments afterwards seriously. That said, we're very well prepared to deal with anything like that." (VOA, 04/15/09)