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Pal's founder aboard cruise liner targeted by pirates

Sharon Hayes • Dec 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Kingsport residents Pal and Sharon Barger are aboard a luxury cruise ship that was targeted by pirates earlier this week.

Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips said he has received e-mail from Pal Barger, his long-time friend, letting him know they are OK.

Pal Barger is the founder and owner of Pal’s Sudden Service.

“They just said that the pirates chased their ship, but they’re OK. And they’ll send us more information later,” Phillips said.

The cruise liner M/S Nautica was sailing in the Gulf of Aden with more than 1,000 people aboard when the attack happened Sunday. Six pirates in two boats fired rifle shots at the ship. One boat came within 300 yards and fired eight shots at the vessel before trailing off, said Tim Rubacky, a spokesman for Oceania Cruises, Inc., which owns the Nautica.

The ship’s captain increased speed and was able to outrun the pirates.

“When the pirates were sighted, the captain went on the public address system and asked passengers to remain in the interior spaces of the ship and wait until he gave further instructions,” Rubacky reportedly said. “Within five minutes, it was over.”

All passengers and crew are safe and there was no damage to the vessel. Rubacky said the ship still plans to return through the Gulf of Aden.

“We believe this was an isolated incident,” he said. “M/S Nautica is well-equipped to deal with these situations and the crew is well-trained.”

The Nautica was on a 32-day cruise from Rome to Singapore, with stops at ports in Italy, Egypt, Oman, Dubai, India, Malaysia and Thailand.

Back in Kingsport, Phillips said he’s glad the Bargers are safe.

“I e-mailed them last night and told them I had called all their friends, and if there was any such thing as a kidnapping, we’d raised $12.17,” joked Phillips. “It is serious, though. I bet they were scared.”

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