A U.S. ship carrying food aid foiled an attack by Somali pirates this morning, the latest known attempted hijack by pirates who continue to thumb their noses at the world.
U.S. officials told ABC News station WLS in Chicago that the Liberty Sun evaded the pirates' attack off the coast of Somalia. The ship is said to be heading to its port destination of Mombassa.
The Navy responded to a call for help by the Liberty Sun, which is carrying food aid for CARE and the World Food Program.
The pirates fired rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons at the Liberty Sun which sustained damage, according to a statement from the Liberty Shipping Company.
ABC has obtained the e-mails sent by Liberty Sun crew member Thomas Urbik to his family as his ship was being attacked by Somali pirates.
During the siege, in an e-mail entitled "I love you all," Urbik writes: "We are under attack by pirates, we are being hit by rockets. Also bullets... We are barricaded in the engine room and so far no one is hurt. A rocket penetrated the bulkhead but the hole is small. Small fire too but put out... Navy is on the way and helos and ships are coming. I'll try to send you another message soon. got to go now. I love you mom and dad and all my brothers and family."
Ninety minutes later, Urbik wrote: "The navy has showed up in full force and we are now under military escort.. all is well. I love you all and thank you for the prayers. -Tom."
There have been reports that the the USS Bainbridge, the vessel that rescued the Maersk Alabama, was on site within hours, although the pirates had already left by the time the warship got there.
Though the Liberty Sun survived the attack, the pirates have seized four ships since Sunday's dramatic rescue of American Capt. Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage during a failed hijacking attempt.
America's top military commander told ABC News the United States is reviewing its options, including whether to go into pirate villages.
Just as the cheers were dying down for the rescue of Phillips that left three pirates dead, Somali pirates were swooping down on more victims. This time they struck in the Gulf of Aden along the north coast of Somalia.
Two Egyptian fishing boats were hijacked, according to Egypt's Foreign Ministry, which said the boats carried a total of 18 to 24 Egyptians.
The biggest overnight prize for the pirates was the capture of the Greek freighter M.V. Irene and a Togo-flagged freighter named the Sea Horse, according to NATO officials. The Irene had a crew of 22. There was no immediate information on the Sea Horse crew.
NATO said that pirates in three skiffs attacked a fifth ship today, the Liberian freighter Safmarine Asia, with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, but failed to capture it.
Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, said pirate attacks this year had risen to 78, with at least 19 ships hijacked and more than 300 crew members still in pirates' hands. Each boat carries the potential of a million-dollar ransom.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States can't end Somali piracy by itself and noted that 16 nations have warships in the region, which is roughly four times the size of Texas.