Another American cargo ship has been attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. The attackers failed to take over the “Liberty Sun" but they did some damage with grenade launchers and automatic weapons. An engineer on the “Liberty Sun" was e-mailing his mom, Katy, during the attack.
He wrote: “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.” In a later email, “The Navy has shown up, we’re under military escort. I love you all and thank you for your prayers.”
Katy Urbick spoke with Kiran Chetry on CNN’s American Morning Wednesday.
Kiran Chetry: How much time from the first email to the second? Because the first must have stopped your heart…
Katy Urbik: Yes, I think the way they send out their e-mail signals, some can accumulate and they send them out at the same time. So literally the second e-mail was there as soon as I exited out of the first one. But that doesn't mean they came that quickly. I think it's a matter of when they send the signals up and send out the e-mails.
Chetry: To hear this from your own child. We're under attack, there's bullets. So far, no one is hurt. What was going through your mind?
Urbik: My heart started pounding. I had this "is this really happening" kind of moment. I was waiting for the next line to say “just kidding” or “LOL” or something like that because that's kind of his sense of humor. But it was just one of those hit you between the eye moments of this is reality right smack in my face.
Chetry: Thomas has been on the ship since February. You’ve talked about the dangers of traveling in this area off of the Somali coast. What has he told you about the precautions they take, maybe changes in the future as to how they arm these cargo ships?
Urbik: Well, as far as precautions went thus far, he kept me pretty well-informed to put my mind at ease that they had high-pressure hoses and strategies to get safe in the engine room if they were being boarded and their lookouts were stepped up. He has mentioned that, you know, this is not enough and he certainly is hoping for more defensive measures onboard after all of this has happened.
Chetry: We've seen just over the past few days with the situation with Captain Phillips, the U.S. Navy getting involved, the SEALs then able to take out the three pirates and rescue the captain. Do you think more needs to be done? Do you think the U.S. government needs to take on a stronger role in patrolling this region of the world?
Urbik: American ships are not only ones being attacked. I would like to see a worldwide resolve to put an end to these problems. In our modern age, it's kind of unimaginable that it can be so easy to take a ship that large and get that much money. I'm not the expert on how to solve those problems, but I think we could begin with more security onboard the ships and more means for them to defend themselves. Because we're talking about an area so vast it would be unrealistic to expect the Navy to be Johnny-on-the-spot there rescuing you if you're under attack.
Chetry: As I understand it, he used to e-mail you every five days, now he’s e-mailing you every 48 hours to put your mind at ease. Going forward in the future, what's it like knowing this is the career path he's chosen that he's on these ships?
Urbik: Well, you know, he's definitely in the worst part of the world for piracy. And I think ordinarily there's many, many shipping jobs you can have that don't put you in this kind of harm's way. He'll probably keep a more careful eye on which jobs he accepts.
Chetry: When you see him, what's the first thing you're going to say?
Urbik: I love you, thank God you're safe. Thank God for being an American and having a strong military that can, you know, safely see you in the port and thank God for protecting you.