Pirates fired shots at the Oceania Nautica on Sunday as the ship carried 680 passengers and 400 crew members through the Gulf of Aden.
The Nautica was able to outrun two small pirate skiffs that tried to intercept the ship's course in between Somalia and Yemen at about 9:28 a.m. local time, Oceania said, as the ship sailed a 32-day cruise from Rome to Singapore.
The Nautica was transiting the Gulf within the prescribed Maritime Safety Protection Area, an approximately 8-mile-wide, 550-mile-long area patrolled by international anti-piracy task forces, when two small skiffs appeared a little more than a half-mile away, Oceania said.
The vessel’s captain, Jurica Brajcic, and officers immediately changed course away from the skiffs and brought the ship to flank speed, 20 knots, allowing it to outrun the pirates, the line said. One skiff managed to get within about 300 yards of the ship and fired eight rifle shots in the direction of the vessel, none of which hit the ship.
None of the passengers or crew was injured, and the ship sustained no damage, Oceania said. The Nautica had departed Safaga, Egypt on Nov. 26 and was scheduled to call in Salalah, Oman, on Monday.
The Gulf of Aden, off the Horn of Africa, is the entry point to the Red Sea and is a common route for ships repositioning from Asia to the Mediterranean and vice versa. Pirate attacks there have been on the rise. The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center reports that there have been 92 attacks on vessels in 2008; 36 have been hijackings in the Gulf of Aden and along Somalia's coast.
In 2005, pirates fired upon the Seabourn Spirit as it sailed about 100 miles off the coast of Somalia. The Spirit repelled the pirates by using a sonic weapon.
Last April, Le Ponant, a 64-passenger yacht operated by Compagnie des Iles du Ponant, was overtaken by pirates in the in the Gulf as the ship transited from the Seychelles to the Mediterranean, with only crew onboard. Nobody was hurt, and the ship and crew were eventually freed after negotiations.