Crew uses safe room to foil Somali pirate attack

Suspected Somali pirates boarded a British-flagged tanker, but abandoned the siege after the crew locked themselves in a safe room and retained control of the vessel, a naval task force said Tuesday.

The foiled attack in the North Arabian Sea — approximately 365 nautical miles southeast of Salalah in Oman — suggested Somali pirate skiffs are extending their range into waters farther north toward Oman.

A statement by the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces said suspected Somali pirates opened fire from several skiffs and managed to board the merchant vessel CPO China on Monday, but the 20-member crew took refuge in a protected room that allowed them to keep control of the ship.

Sailors from a ship in the multinational flotilla, the Australian frigate HMAS Melbourne, boarded the merchant vessel Tuesday and found the pirates gone and all crew safe, the statement said.

On Saturday, pirates seized the Algerian-owned ship MV Blida with 27 crew members onboard about 150 nautical miles southeast of Salalah.