General cargoship Maersk Texas came under mass attack from around 20 skiffs in the northern channel coming out of Fujairah on Wednesday morning, operator Maersk Line has confirmed.
A statement from the company said that the US-flag vessel had thwarted the would-be assailants at around noon local time while transiting the Gulf of Oman, northeast of Fujairah. All hands on board were safe and unharmed, and the vessel was proceeding on its voyage, it added.
Conflicting earlier reports from security professionals in the region, some of whom listened to the incident unfold on VHF radio, suggested first an attack, and then discounted the report, believing that the ship mistook fishing vessels for pirate craft.
But Maersk’s statement said: “Numerous skiffs with armed men in each boat quickly closed on Maersk Texas. Maersk Texas activated defensive measures per the US Coast Guard-approved vessel security plan.
“Despite clear warning signals, the skiffs continued their direct line toward Maersk Texas and the embarked security team fired warning shots. The pirates then fired upon Maersk Texas, and the security team returned fire per established USCG rules of engagement.”