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Pirates 'fought of with deckchairs'

10 May 2011 09:46

Holidaymakers used deckchairs to fight off Somali pirates attacking their ship

Holidaymakers used deckchairs to fight off Somali pirates attacking their ship

A retired couple have revealed how they helped thwart a Somali pirate attack as outlaws attempted to storm their cruise ship.

John and Barbara Jeffrey were enjoying a luxury trip from South Africa to the Mediterranean when the pirates tried to attack the ship they were sailing on.

The couple were on deck late at night socialising with a group when they spotted a small boat following their liner.

They noticed that one of the pirates had attached a rope to a lower deck and was using it to haul himself aboard.

The holidaymakers armed themselves with deckchairs and threw everything they could at the man and he finally fell into the sea when a German from the group hit him with a flying deckchair.

Mr Jeffrey, 65, from Seaton Delaval, North Tyneside, told the Evening Chronicle newspaper: "They were still close to the ship at this point so they didn't have a great angle to hit us. I think they were trying to scare us off so they could try with another rope, but we stood our ground and continued throwing things at the boat."

The raiders soon began firing machine guns at the ship, the MSC Melody, and Mr Jeffrey suffered two separate injuries from the blasts.

He was treated for six days on board before being transferred via Jordan to a French hospital after his septic wounds failed to respond to antibiotics.

The Jeffreys decided to speak out about their April 2009 ordeal after settling a legal claim with MSC Cruises.

The story highlights the need for travellers to ensure they have a comprehensive travel insurance policy before embarking on luxury cruises.

A spokeswoman for MSC Cruises said: "Passengers' safety is always paramount to us and security procedures were well in place at the time to protect the passengers from the alleged risk of piracy."