Batavia sailor safe after being held hostage by pirates

April 15, 2009 Tom Urbik from west suburban Batavia is aboard the Liberty Sun.

Pirates using rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons attacked the ship on Tuesday, two days after the rescue of an American captain held hostage by pirates.

Since Katy and Michael Urbik first described the shock of finding out their son Tom was attacked by Somali pirates and rescued by the Navy, the relieved parents have talked to their son on the phone, who assures them he is safe.

The family's ordeal first began on Tuesday when Katy Urbik received a disturbing email from her son.

"We are under attack by pirates," the sailor wrote. "We are being hit by rockets. We are barricaded in the engine room. Navy is on the way and helicopters and ships are coming. I love you mom and dad and all my brothers and family."

After that email, Tom Urbik and the rest of the crew of the Liberty Sun were rescued and are being brought back to the U.S.

"They're a very faith-filled family. They have a very strong devotional life and I'm sure this has helped them in this crisis time," said Fr. Don MacLaughlin.

Fr. Don MacLaughlin is the priest at St. Michael's, the Urbik's Wheaton parish. He says the church gave thanks on Wednesday morning at Mass that Tom is okay.

Tom grew up in St. Mike's and considered becoming a priest.

"He always seemed to be inquisitive about the Church which we think is great," said Peggy Flynn, Tom's former teacher.

Tom went on to a Catholic boarding school in Pennsylvania, before becoming a maritime engineer after graduating from Texas A&M University.

His family says he is not likely to give up sailing after this ordeal.

"He likes to work real hard, make a lot of money, come home and have fun," said Mrs. Urbik.

But with some pirates pledging retaliation and more attacks on American ships, the danger remains.

The U.S.S. Bainbridge, which rescued the Liberty Sun, is the same Navy ship involved in the rescue of the Maersk Alabama on Sunday.

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