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Weapons Threat but no Pirate attack -US Yacht Safe    
Tue, 18 Apr 2006

On Sunday, a US flagged sailing ship sent out a mayday, saying that it was under attack by pirates with rocket launchers. The call was picked up by the Italian container ship, Jolly Platino, which informed the Italian coastguard.

The Italian authorities, in turn, informed Yemeni Coastguard and the US naval authorities, based in Bahrein. Warships of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, together with a Dutch warship, were said to be proceeding to the scene of the incident, about 25 miles off the Yemeni coast.

At first, Yemeni officials said the incident was outside its territorial waters, then late Sunday, denied that a US yacht had been targeted by pirates, saying that patrol boats had been sent to the area and found the vessel sailing normally.

Now, the US Navy has denied reports that the US flagged yacht was attacked by pirates. Commander Jeff Breslau, spokesman for the US Navy Fifth Fleet, said that the yacht had issued a distress call, after those on board had been frightened by the sight of people with weapons, but no attack had been made and the vessel was now out of danger.

The yacht has been identified as the Tir Na Nog, a Cheong Lee Ketch with an all female crew of three aboard, headed for the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

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by Marian Martin, BYM News

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