Sailor home safe after pirate attack

May 18, 2009 (BATAVIA, Ill.) Thomas Urbik was on the Liberty Sun when pirates tried to commandeer that ship off the coast of Somalia.

Urbik got home on Sunday night and will be home for about a month.

It's been little more than a month since Tom's close call against Somali pirates while sailing off the African coast on April 14. On Monday, he was finally back home with his family and glad to be alive.

"It's a tremendous relief, you know. Even when we were out of the pirate waters, there's still that fright of what if, what if," said Urbik.

"Very relieved, very happy,very grateful he's safe," said Katy Urbik, mother.

Tom was part of a crew of 20 on the freight ship, Liberty Sun. A marine engineer, he recalls being in the engine room when his ship came under attack.

"I could hear bullets ricocheting off the house. And to me, from inside the door, it echoing off the steel walls, it sounded like they were standing right outside that door. I thought, oh, crap, they're already onboard," said Urbik.

As it turns out, the pirates did cause some damage to the ship but were unable to get onboard, thanks in part to a series of precautionary measures the crew came up with in light of the attack just a week earlier on the Maersk Alabama.

"Our best hope is to be high in the water, go as fast as we can and try and make hard maneuvers and not let them onboard at all," said Urbik.

Fortunately, these improvised steps worked. The pirates gave up in about 40 minutes. The Navy didn't arrive until a few hours after the whole incident was over.

Tom told ABC7 he will go back to the Liberty Sun and he will very likely go back to the pirate-patrolled waters again. But next time he would like to see some sort of security force accompany them or at least have the crew trained to use small arms.

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