Suburban man on ship held hostage by pirates

April 14, 2009 9:14:31 PM PDT
Just two days after the rescue of an American captain held hostage by pirates, four more ships have been attacked including one from the U.S.On board the American vessel: a man from west suburban Batavia. He's been in contact with family who's sharing their story in an ABC7 exclusive.

Pirates vowed revenge following the deaths of three who were killed by Navy sharpshooters during the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips. They apparently tried to get it on Tuesday.

Tom Urbik is one of about 20 crew members aboard the Liberty Sun which is carrying humanitarian supplies to Mombasa, Kenya. It became the latest target for pirates.

It has been a tense week for the Urbik family, knowing their son Tom was on a U.S. cargo ship heading into the same pirate patrolled waters as the Maersk Alabama.

Katy Urbik has been communicating by email with her 26 year-old son who is an engineer on the boat.

Just after one o'clock on Tuesday afternoon she got an email that sent her into a panic.

"It says, 'we are understand attack by pirates, we are being hit by rockets, also bullets,'" said Mrs. Urbik.

U.S officials confirm the ship came under attack about 10:30 Tuesday morning Chicago time.

Tom Urbik wrote in an email that bullets and even a small rocket grenade penetrated the ship's hull while the crew locked themselves in a room inside.

"She called me and she was...a mess, just all upset," said Mike Urbik.

Just minutes after the first email, a second email confirmed that they were safe and a navy ship had come to their aid and was now escorting them.

A source confirms that ship is the U.S.S. Bainbridge which was involved in the dramatic rescue of Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama on Sunday. Officials believe Phillips was still on board at the time.

The pirate lifeboat he was held hostage in was visible in port on Tuesday, the windows blown out and the hatch open.

Phillips is due to be reunited with his crew tomorrow in Mombasa.

Tom Urbik's family expects it will be months before he will be back home to see them. But they are grateful knowing he is safe and the Navy was on the job.

"It seems like they were under attack, the navy jumped in and everything was well, like bang, bang, bang," said Mike Urbik.

When the U.S.S. Bainbridge arrived, the pirate ship had fled the area.

The crew of the Liberty Sun, like those on other cargo ships, does not carry weapons on board.

The company which is based in Houston issued a statement on Tuesday night saying they are grateful no one was injured in the incident.


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