Pirates Approach U.S.-Flagged Maersk Ship in Gulf of Aden

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Pirates in the Gulf of Aden approached the Maersk Virginia, owned by the same Norfolk, Va., U.S.-based shipping company as the Maersk Alabama, seized by pirates on April 8, according to a statement by the shipping company the Maersk Line, Limited.

The 950-foot U.S.-flagged container ship was traveling to Salalah, Oman, when pirates approached the vessel.

The Virginia increased its speed to more than 21 knots, began evasive maneuvers, and contacted authorities, according to a statement by the Maersk Line, Limited. Naval warships already operating in the area responded to the situation and deployed helicopters to counter the pirates, who reached a distance of 0.75 nautical miles from the Virginia before turning away, the company said.

No shots were fired, and the 19 crewmembers, all U.S. citizens, are safe. The Maersk Virginia was traveling in the defined security corridor, about 70 miles south of Yemen, when the incident occurred.

Earlier Friday, the same group of pirates unsuccessfully attacked another ship, and the ship’s crew warned the Maersk Virginia of the pirates’ presence.

Pirates off the Somali coast held Maersk Alabama’s Captain Richard Phillips hostage for four days before he was rescued by the U.S. Navy Seals.