GULF OF ADEN — The U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser USS San Jacinto yesterday disrupted nine suspected Somali pirates from attacking a Maltese-flagged vessel that was transiting here.
The San Jacinto responded to a distress call from the M/V Avenue Beauty, which was transiting 90 miles north of Somalia when the crew reported they were under attack by pirates. Upon hearing gun shots, the Avenue Beauty’s chief officer sounded a general alarm and directed the crew to execute counter-piracy measures, which caused the pirate skiff to call off the attack.
The San Jacinto responded to the attack and dispatched a helicopter to follow the fleeing skiff. Aboard the aircraft, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Casey Halliwell tracked the skiff on radar as it speeded south toward the Somali coast.
The skiff, with nine suspects on board, failed to comply with the chopper’s order to stop. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Corey Whittle then fired warning shots across the suspect vessel’s bow and stern, compelling the skiff to stop.
The San Jacinto has interdicted 22 suspected pirates over the past week.
Earlier today, the San Jacinto dispatched a Navy/Coast Guard boarding team onto the pirate skiff. The sailors and Coastguardsmen quickly took control of the vessel and searched the skiff and crew, who had previously thrown their weapons, ammunition, and other incriminating paraphernalia overboard. The suspects were released in the skiff after the boarding team confiscated one engine and several gallons of fuel, ensuring the suspects could reach shore while limiting their ability to continue piracy attempts.
On May 26, the San Jacinto rescued five Yemeni mariners from 13 Somali pirates, while conducting routine counternarcotics operations 68 miles southeast of Ras Fartak, Yemen. The pirates were turned over to Yemeni Naval Forces.
U.S. forces conduct maritime security operations to help set the conditions for security in the maritime environment. Such operations complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional partner nations and assists in the disruption of violent extremists’ use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.
USS San Jacinto Public Affairs
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)