Int'l force stops pirates hijacking cruise ship: Danish navy

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 01 2008 09:30 PM | Updated as of Dec 02 2008 05:30 AM

COPENHAGEN - International coalition warships stopped Somali pirates from hijacking a luxury cruise ship in the Gulf of Aden at the weekend, the Danish navy said Monday.

A Danish navy spokesman refused to name the vessel involved but a Danish media report said the cruise ship Nautica, carrying 400 passengers and 200 crew was the target of the latest attack by Somali pirates.

"The (Danish) navy's tactical command on Sunday led a military operation, dispatching a vessel from the coalition to the aid of a civilian ship threatened by pirates, thereby preventing an act of piracy," Danish navy spokesman Jesper Lynge told AFP.

Lynge said it was up to the countries involved to give details of the cruise ship involved.

According to Danish TV2 News, six to eight armed pirates on two speed boats were observed speeding toward the Nautica, a cruiseliner that had departed from Florida and was carrying 400 passengers and 200 crew.

A French navy warship, alerted by the Danish Navy, scrambled a helicopter to the scene, which sent the pirates fleeing, TV2 News said.

On September 15, Denmark took command of the multinational naval force Task Force 150, aimed at combatting acts of piracy and weapons smuggling in the northern part of the Indian Ocean.

The Danish navy has deployed a warship, the Absalon, in the region. Its mission was to end on January 12, but has been extended until April 1, Danish Defence Minister Soeren Gade announced last week.

Despite the presence of foreign navies in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, hijackers have defied them and seized ships including a Saudi super-tanker and a Ukrainian vessel carrying tanks other other weapons.

Hundreds of sailors captured in numerous piracy attacks are held hostage on the Somali coast.