Seabourn Cruises Seabourn Spirit was attacked by pirates on November 5, 2005 with rifles and a rocket launcher. The pirates blew a hole in a passenger cabin as it sailed off the coast of Somalia. The ship was just 71 miles off the Somalia coast, when the pirates in two fast open boats, armed with Kalashnikov AK47s and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher attacked. The media reported that incident as ammo landed on board, and nobody was injured.
The sun rose that day at 5:41. Only six minutes earlier, the glow of the sun inching up from below the horizon, with the sea still in total darkness, pirates attacked the Seabourn Spirit at 5:35. Many passengers would still be sleeping, some of them having just woken up were getting themselves ready to go to breakfast. They were waking up in pirate alley, so nobody would be out walking around on deck this morning. It was a day at sea, with no early port calls, there was no rush to get out bed.
Seabourn Spirit was nearly boarded by pirates and no doubt a hostage situation would have played out just as it did with the Le Ponant, only with passengers involved if not for the bravery of Michael Groves. Michael Groves was working as a security officer aboard Seabourn Spirit.
For his heroic efforts, Groves received the Queen's Gallantry Medal from the Queen herself at Buckingham Palace on May 16, 2007. Men are not labeled "heroes" and given medals for bravery by the Queen for 'minor events'. That was the first clue lots of information was missing about this incident, information Queen Elizabeth II had at hand.
Mr Groves, a 42-year-old crew member who was a former UK policeman, dodged the pirate's small arms fire and rocket-launched grenades, and used a fire hose to try to force the pirates away from the cruise ship. Two grenades were fired into the ship, but Mr Groves fought off the pirates and prevented them from boarding. When he was honored by the Queen for his bravery, Mr Groves said: "As soon as I went on the deck I came under automatic fire. A rocket grenade blew me off my feet."
It is also worth considering this fact. That ship was a huge target for men in a tiny boat. They could have aimed that weapon with their eyes closed and hit the ship. The pirate firing the weapon chose to aim center on the ship, at an area that was obviously several decks of passengers cabins. The intent is clear, they were trying to kill passengers to show they meant business.
Grove's co-worker Som Bahadur Gurung, 46, tried to activate a sonic cannon, known as a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), but was hit by a bullet and fell to the ground, bleeding from his head, and unconscious. After dragging Mr Gurung to safety, Mr Groves turned the sonic weapon on the pirates.
Not to diminish Gurung's efforts before he was unconscious and removed from further danger by Groves, he was given the Queen's Commendation for Bravery, the next lesser of the medal given to Groves who single-handedly saved the ship from being boarded.
Passenger Mike Rogers of Vancouver, Canada said that, "There's no water right now, for instance, in some places [aboard the ship], and I believe one of the grenades actually went off in one of the cabins."
Passenger Edith Laird from Seattle, Washington said one of the grenades launched at the ship hit a cabin just a few doors away from where she and her daughter had been sleeping.
Bob and Gail Meagher from Sydney, Australia give an account that actually seems to mesh with the report from Mike Groves. Mr. Meagher says that he was in his cabin when the RPG round hit the cabin near him. There was a flash of flame and then a huge boom - a terrible boom sound. I've never heard anything like it - it was where the rocket-propelled device hit the metal of the ship, just about ten feet from where we were standing. It sort of went on the deck above us and then went through the metal skin of the ship and into a cabin." Meager says that there were two people in the cabin, a married couple. He says that the couple had a terrible mess in their cabin.
Charles Forsdick from Durban, South Africa says the woman in the cabin was in the bathtub at the time, and escaped injury because of her interior, protected location. Her husband was in the cabin.
Harry and Jan Hufford from California gave an email account of what was going on, so relatives at home would know they were alright. The Huffords said that the captain announced over the public address system that armed men were coming along on the starboard side of the ship, and he wanted everyone to lock themselves in their cabin.
Supporting Information & Resources:
Featured or New Cruise Ship Incidents
CBI Pirate Attack Investigations