Somali pirates who attacked an American freighter with rocket-propelled grenades were not trying to capture it but to destroy it as an act of revenge, one of their commanders claimed today.
The LIberty Sun, carrying a cargo of food aid for Africa’s starving millions, was attacked yesterday afternoon by two speedboats some 285 nautical miles off the Somali coast.
Its crew responded in what is becoming textbook fashion for unarmed crews in the Gulf of Aden and along Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast.
They hunkered down in the engine room while the ship’s master increased speed and threw the Liberty Sun into series of twists and turns. The pirates could not get close enough to deploy their grappling hooks.
By the time the USS Bainbridge, a guided missile destroyer, arrived two hours later, the buccaneers had given up and headed off in search of easier prey. “She was able to report that the ship and crew were safe,” said Lieutenant Stephanie Murdock of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, stationed in Bahrain.
On board the USS Bainbridge was Richard Phillips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, who spent five days in a lifeboat with a group of pirates before the US Navy Seal snipers rescued him on Sunday, killing three pirates.
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“This attack was the first against our prime target,” Abdi Garad, a pirate commander, said today. “We intended to destroy this American-flagged ship and the crew on board but unfortunately they narrowly escaped us.