Saturday, April 5, 2008

French Ship Seized by Pirates

Thankfully there were no passengers on board when pirates seized control of Le Ponant on Friday, April 4th. However, its 30 crew members were taken hostage when the 288-ft, French luxury sailing yacht was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia's coast. After completing a cruise of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, the ship was returning to the Mediterranean where it was scheduled to embark passengers for a cruise on April 19th.

Violence-torn Somalia doesn't have its own navy and has been assisted in the area by international patrols in an effort to deter piracy. According the the Associated Press, "The International Maritime Bureau, which tracks piracy, said in its annual report earlier this year that global pirate attacks rose 10 percent in 2007, marking the first increase in three years." Pirates off the coast of Somalia are reported to have seized more than two dozen ships last year, most of them commercial vessels.

The three-masted Le Ponant, owned by Compagnie des Iles du Ponant, features four decks, two restaurants, indoor and outdoor lounges, and can carry up to 64 passengers.

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