American Ship Survives Somali Pirates Hijack Attempt

Crew members of the freighter Liberty Sun repel attack near Horn of Africa.

ByABC News
April 14, 2009, 7:23 AM

April 14, 2009— -- 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.