Australian Navy Warships Thwart Pirate Attack off Yemen

May 19, 2009

The Australian navy thwarted an attack by pirates on two merchant ships in the dangerous waters off Yemen, Australian defense officials said Monday.

Crew members aboard the MV Dubai Princess raised distress signals Sunday night, claiming pirates were attacking their ship with rocket-propelled grenades and trying to board their vessel, Australia’s Department of Defense said in a statement. The incident occurred about 100 miles (170 kilometers) south of Yemen, in international waters.

Two Australian navy ships traveling nearby through the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden heard the distress signal and rushed to the Dubai Princess’ aid. By the time the Australian ships arrived, another merchant vessel nearby was also being harassed by pirates, the defense department said.

The pirates fled once the Australian warships were spotted, and no one was injured, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said in the statement.

A defense department spokeswoman said she had no additional details on the incident.

The Gulf of Aden is one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, connecting Europe and Asia via the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. It is used by 20,000 ships a year and has become the foremost hot spot for pirate attacks.

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