Somalia — U.S. Navy Ship Disrupts Suspected Pirate Attack

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)