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U.S. ship repels pirates this time

November 19, 2009|Associated Press

NAIROBI, KENYA — Guards aboard the Maersk Alabama cargo ship used guns and a sound blaster Wednesday to repel the second pirate attack in seven months on the U.S. vessel at a time when ships are increasingly hiring armed security teams to thwart hijackings.

A U.S. naval commander hailed the ship's new defenses and family members rejoiced over the escape.

The U.N.'s Maritime Safety Committee says members should "strongly discourage the carrying and use of firearms by seafarers for personal protection or for the protection of a ship." The concern is that guns will encourage violence. But the Maersk Alabama used its own security guards to save itself after four pirates approached in a skiff, firing automatic weapons from about 300 yards away, a statement from the U.S. 5th Fleet said. The ship responded with evasive maneuvers, small-arms fire and a "long-range acoustic device," which emits earsplitting tones, to thwart the attack.

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