June 11, 2008
Pirates attack cattle carrier off Philippines
A 4,634 grt livestock carrier, the Hereford Express, has had to return to the Philippines after sustaining damage to the bridge windows, radio mast, navigational equipment and other items in a pirate attack last Saturday.
The Philippines-flag vessel is owned by a subsidiary of Vroon B.V. of the Netherlands.
According to Australian media reports, on Saturday morning the ship was heading from General Santos City, Philippines on a regular run to Broome, Western Australia, to pick up cattle when it was fired on about 70 nautical miles south of Balut Island.
A Philippines Coast Guard source reportedly said the attack by pirates in four speedboats lasted two hours but none one of the ship's crew of 22 Filipinos was injured.
"The vessel did not stop and tried to maneuver to escape the attack by changing course to the northwest, away from the island," the Coast Guard source said.
The vessel returned to port at Mindanao's General Santos City to formally report the attack and for repairs to its bridge, which was badly damaged by the shellfire.
Broome Port Authority CEO Vic Justice said he got a call from the Philippine Coast Guard shortly after the incident was reported, saying the ship had been attacked and would not be arriving as scheduled later this week.
In a radio interview, Mr. Justice said the pirates were frustrated that the high sides of the vessels prevented them boarding. They subjected the bridge area to heavy gunfire.