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A US oceanography research ship has been attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden – leading its managers to rethink their plans for studying salinity flows in the region.

A boat carrying unknown, heavily armed assailants pursued the Maurice Ewing research vessel for a harrowing 20 minutes in waters 30 kilometres off the coast of Somalia on 31 August. No crew members were hurt and the ship was not damaged.

Despite the attack, the researchers have continued their study of the movement of high-salinity water from the Red Sea as it mixes with waters in the Gulf of Aden. But the ship is staying at least 80 kilometres off the coast and ‘substantial modifications’ are to be made to the scientists’ plans, to ensure the vessel is kept out of danger.

Reference: Nature 413, 97 (2001)

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