The crew of a Turkish-flagged merchant ship foiled an apparent attack Sunday by Somali pirates by locking themselves in the engine room and calling for help from an anti-piracy task force, the US Navy said.
The international flotilla patrolling the waters of the Horn of Africa dispatched a helicopter from the destroyer USS Shoup to survey the MV 26 Agustos, but the suspected pirates had fled before the American ship arrived, said a statement from US 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain.
A team from the Shoup boarded the merchant ship and found the crew unharmed in the engine room, where they had retained control of the ship during the suspected pirate attack and was able to call maritime monitors in Dubai, the statement said.
The MV 26 Agustos, which was traveling from Romania to Bangladesh, was reported attacked near Socotra island in the Arabian Sea between the coasts of Somalia and Yemen. The ship continued on its journey after being assisted by the USS Shoup.
A multinational task force has patrolled off lawless Somalia since January 2009. On Wednesday, a jury in Virginia found five Somali men guilty of attacking a US Navy ship off Africa's coast in what the government said was the first piracy conviction in a US courtroom in nearly 200 years.