4 Dec 2008

Cruise ship attacked by pirates

11:00 am on 4 December 2008

A cruise liner with nearly 400 Australian tourists aboard was attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia this week.

News Ltd reported on Thursday that more than 29 pirate boats surrounded the MV Athena, which was carrying 200 Australian women and 189 men, as it passed through the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday night local time.

Up to six pirates were reported on each boat.

But crew members used water cannons to stop them from boarding the ship.

The World Cruises Agency added that crew members holding fire hoses were patrolling the decks.

There have been about 100 attacks on ships off the Somali coast this year. Forty vessels were hijacked and 13 are still in the hands of pirates along with more than 250 crew members.

On Sunday, another luxury cruise liner, the Oceania Nautica - carrying 50 Australians and some New Zealanders - came under fire as it passed through the area.

The pirates were aboard two small boats fitted with outboard motors, but the captain of the Nautica managed to outrun them.