US Marines take back pirate-held ship off Somalia

Last Updated: Thursday, September 9, 2010 - 23:18

Manama: US Marine commandos stormed a
pirate-held cargo vessel off the Somalia coast on Thursday,
reclaiming control of the ship and taking nine prisoners
without firing a shot, the US Navy said.

The Navy declined to give specific tactics used in the
pre-dawn raid, but it ranks among the most dramatic high seas
confrontations with pirates by an international task force
created to protect shipping lanes off lawless Somalia.

Lt John Fage, a spokesman at the US Fifth Fleet
headquarters in Bahrain, said the operation took about an hour
and no injuries were reported among the Marines or crew of the
German-owned Magellan Star, which was commandeered by pirates
yesterday.

"There were no shots fired," Fage said in an e-mail to
The Associated Press.

A Turkish frigate on anti-piracy patrols, TCG
Gokceada, first responded to a distress call from the Magellan
Star, which flies the flag of Antigua and Barbuda.

The US team from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit`s
Maritime Raid Force launched the assault from aboard the USS
Dubuque, an amphibious transport ship, a US Navy statement
said.

Fage said details of the operation could not be
disclosed under Navy policies. But he noted the Marine
Expeditionary Unit has the capability to board ships both by
sea and air.

The Navy statement said nine suspected pirates were
taken into custody.

US warships are part of a 25-nation mission protecting
merchant vessels from pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia
and into the Gulf of Aden. The task force often opens fire on
suspected pirates, but boarding raids are rare.

In April 2009, a team of Navy Seal sharpshooters
positioned on the fantail of a US warship killed a trio of
Somali pirates to free an American sea captain who had been
taken hostage and was being held at gunpoint on board a
lifeboat.

Last month, Denmark said a helicopter from one of its
warships fired warning shots and foiled a pirate attack off
Somalia.

At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
said last month options under consideration to prosecute
suspected pirates include creating a special international
court.

More than 140 piracy-related incidents have been
reported off Somalia`s coast since January and more than 30
ships have been hijacked, according to UN and anti-piracy task
force reports.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, September 9, 2010 - 23:18

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