Italian Navy rescues crew after fleeing pirates set ship on fire

pacexpessmicroThe Italian Navy reports that this morning the destroyer Andrea Doria, deployed in the Indian Ocean as part of NATO's operation Ocean Shield, came to the aid of the Cyprus-flagged general cargo ship Pacific Express, which had been under a pirate attack that had lasted almost all the previous night.

The crew thwarted the attack by using Best Management Practices and securing themselves in the citadel.

The International Maritime Bureau says the attack took place around 300 nm east of Mombasa, Kenya (off Somalia). Pirates in  two skiffs armed with guns and RPG, pursued the ship and managed to board it, despite its taking avoiding action.

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Italian Navy Photograph

The Italian Navy says the pirates apparently fled when they saw the Andrea Doria approaching. Prior to leaving the ship, they set fire to it.

On arrival at the scene, the Andrew Doria sent a security team to rescue the crew. In view of the severity of the fire, the Master of the merchant ship requested that the entire crew (the Ukrainian master and 25 Filipino seafarers) be evacuated and they are now embarked on the destroyer and will be landed in Mombasa.

NATO reports the vessel as abandoned in location 0424S-04220E and on fire and adrift.  A NAVWARN will be released shortly.

The 22,597 dwt general cargo ship had been headed to Mombasa to discharge 3,300 tons of steel bars and coils. It is owned by Estelle Shipping Company Ltd. and managed by Cyprus Maritime Company Ltd., both based in Athens, Greece.

September 21, 2011

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