Maersk Texas Crew Safe Following Pirate Attack

 

July 2012

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The SIU-crewed Maersk Texas thwarted an attack by pirates in the Gulf of Oman on May 23 with the help of their onboard security team.

 

At around noon on May 23, reports came in that there was a possible pirate attack in progress. As more reports were posted, it became clear that the Texas was indeed under attack by several skiffs with armed men aboard. The vessel was roughly 70 nautical miles southeast of the Strait of Hormuz when watchstanders noticed roughly 8-10 skiffs approaching the vessel at a high rate of speed. This caused the captain to attempt evasive maneuvers to try and deter the skiffs from getting close. In addition, the crew and the security team took other defensive actions in a last-ditch effort to get the pirates to back off. Those tactics included spraying fire houses at the skiffs and firing warning shots.

 

Things took a turn for the worse as the armed men aboard the skiffs, ranging from four to six men per skiff (possibly more), opened fire on the Texas. To make matters more complicated, there were also civilian fishing vessels in the area which added to confusion. However, due to the professionalism and training of both the crew and the security team, no harm came to any fishermen or their ships.

 

“Despite clear warning signals, the skiffs continued their direct line toward Maersk Texas and the embarked security team fired warning shots,” said a representative of Maersk Line, Limited, the ship operator, in a release to the media. “The pirates then fired upon Maersk Texas, and the security team returned fire per established U.S. Coast Guard rules of engagement.”

 

Once the pirates opened fire, the security team saw no other option other than engaging the pirates head-on. The security team returned fire and engaged in a brief firefight with the pirates that resulted in their retreat.

 

In the meantime, the crew gathered in the citadel while the captain called out for assistance. The Iranian Navy was quick to respond over the radio. According to Bloomberg News, the Iranian Navy “provided guidance to the crew of the Maersk Texas by radio.”

 

Thankfully, all crew members aboard are safe and accounted for. The Texas continued on its route from Kuwait to Beaumont, Texas. The SIU members aboard the ship at the time of the attack included Bosun Kennard Campbell, AB Robert Boudreaux, QDW Tyesha Boyd, GVA Willie Clemmons Jr., GUDE Roderick Thomas, QDW Courtney Price, AB Michael Congress, QEE Gary Dahl, AB Billy Hill, OS Melvin Hill, SB Michael McDermott, and ACU Paula Hopson.

 

The SIU is committed to ensuring that Seafarers work in safe environments at all times. The union has made it clear that much more needs to be done to prevent and eliminate the threat of piracy for mariners.

 

Among many other activities, the SIU is a supporter of the SaveOurSeafarers campaign, which is devoted to spreading the word and cultivating action on piracy issues in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, Gulf of Aden, and elsewhere. For more information, and to sign a petition drawing attention to this problem, go to www.saveourseafarers.org.

 

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