U.S Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20590
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Washington, DC – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today reminded mariners about the importance of taking necessary precautions and implementing best practices in the wake of recent attacks on the M/V Harriett and Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia.
“These ships’ successful defense against pirates should serve as a reminder to the maritime industry of the best practices that can keep crews safe on the seas,” said Secretary LaHood. “Mariners should heed the lessons learned from past attacks and review defensive measures so that they are prepared when traveling through high-threat areas. The U.S. government will continue to work with ship operators to protect U.S. citizens working in regions where piracy continues to be a serious threat.”
Last week, the M/V Harriett thwarted a pirate attack by outrunning the pirate ship. Yesterday, guards aboard the Maersk Alabama repelled a pirate attack by returning fire after the pirates fired automatic weapons at the ship. No casualties were reported in the incident, which took place 350 nautical miles east of the Somali coast.
This was the second attack by pirates against the Maersk Alabama this year. In April, pirates hijacked the ship and took Captain Richard Phillips hostage, holding him at gunpoint in a lifeboat for five days until he was freed by Navy SEALs.
A maritime advisory issued in September by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration warned vessels to avoid routes where attacks have taken place while also recommending that mariners demonstrate a willingness to defend themselves. Additional information can be found in the press release.