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Cruise ship avoids potential pirate attack, spokesman says

From Laura Maestro, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A cruise ship avoided a possible pirate attack in the Indian Ocean
  • The ship's radar detected a small boat and prompted the captain to take evasive maneuvers
  • At least 28 vessels and 654 hostages are currently being held by pirates

(CNN) -- A British cruise ship avoided a possible pirate attack in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday when the captain to took evasive maneuvers and alerted naval authorities after the ship's radar detected an approaching small boat.

The 350-passenger Spirit of Adventure was traveling some 100 miles off the coast of the east African country of Tanzania -- embarking on a two-week trip from Mauritius to Mombasa, Kenya -- when the boat sped toward the ship, said cruise liner spokesman Paul Green.

"As a precautionary measure (the captain) asked the passengers to go to the main lounge," Green said.

The passengers stayed in the lounge area for approximately 45 minutes while the captain steered the ship to avoid the approaching boat, which at one point came within a few hundred meters, he said.

No shots were fired and no attempt to board was made, Green added.

Sll cruises traveling in the Indian Ocean provide security briefings for passengers as a matter of policy, he said.

Pirate attacks and subsequent ransoms have become a frequent hazard for those traveling off the east African coast, particularly Somalia, which has had no formal central government since 1991.

At least 28 vessels and 654 hostages are currently being held by pirates off the Somali coast, according to a statement from the European Union Naval Force.