ATHENS, Greece – Crewmen fired high pressure water jets to fight off heavily armed Somali pirates trying to board a Greek oil tanker in the dangerous Gulf of Aden on Friday in the fourth such attack since the start of the year, authorities said.
The captain of the Kriti Episkopi spotted the speedboats just before 8 a.m. GMT approaching his ship and took evasive action to try to shake them off.
"An aircraft and a helicopter reached the ship very quickly, which scared the pirates off," a ministry spokesman said, on customary condition of anonymity. "A frigate also sped to the scene. Everything now seems to be under control, but we remain vigilant."
"The ship is continuing its journey to its port of destination," the company said.
A French warship on Thursday intercepted two speedboats carrying eight Somali pirates as they were preparing to board the Panamanian ship, said a statement released late Thursday by the office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The pirates have been given a free hand to operate because of more than a decade of turmoil in Somalia. The nation of about eight million people has not had a functioning government since warlords overthrew a dictator in 1991 and then turned on each other.