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Pirates seize luxury cruise ship off Somalia

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On April - 6 - 2008

Le Ponant photo courtesy of Compagnie des Iles du PonantThe French three-masted sailing ship Le Ponant was hijacked by pirates on Friday morning in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia. The luxury ship was carrying 30 crew and no passengers. The vessel was on the way from Seychelles to the Mediterranean to board passengers in Malta for its next voyage.

The ship’s owner, the Compagnie des Iles du Ponant, said the 30 crew members were from France and Ukraine. Compagnie des Iles du Ponant says the ship was a “victim of an act of piracy” as it was sailing between Somalia and Yemen.

France’s Defense and Foreign ministries have been mobilized and the warship, Le Commandant Rouen, has been diverted from NATO’s Afghanistan operation to join the Yemeni coast guard in the hunt for and rescue of the captured cruise ship. The 290-foot long, 32 stateroom Le Ponant, is a luxury sailing vessel fully equipped with lounges, bar and restaurant, is one of three operated by the Marseille-based firm, which describes itself as France’s leading cruise provider. With a capacity for 64 passengers, it offers cruises in the Gulf region, including between Egypt and Aqaba in Jordan, and off the coast of Oman.
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Pirates seized more than 25 ships off the Somali coast last year and leisure craft are advised to give the area a wide berth. The International Maritime Bureau, has reported that global pirate attacks rose 10 percent in 2007, marking the first increase in three years. The last attack on a cruise ship occurred in November 2005 when the Seabourn Spirit was attacked by pirates firing automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at the cruise ship. Fortunately the crew took evasive action, repelling the attackers without returning fire. No passengers were harmed, but one crew member was slightly injured.

Read more about Le Ponant.

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  1. […] is not the first on a cruise ship. Last April, pirates off the coast of Somalia seized control of French sail-cruiser Le Ponant, which was deadheading from the Seychelles to the Mediterranean. The 22 crew members were […]


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