British commandos killed two suspected pirates who tried to seize a Danish ship in the Gulf of Aden in an unprecedented operation involving a Royal Navy and a Russian warship, it was revealed today.UPDATE: here
The suspect pirates were shot yesterday after the Royal Marine commandos, in rigid inflatable boats launched from the frigate HMS Cumberland, were fired at from a Yemeni-flagged dhow, the Ministry of Defence said.
It said the Cumberland was conducting routine Nato maritime security operations in the Gulf of Aden when a number of its crew boarded the dhow. The British crew "had reason to believe" the vessel had been involved in an attack on the Danish-registered MV Powerful earlier that day.
"Various non-forcible methods had been used in an attempt to stop the dhow but they were unsuccessful," the MoD said, adding that the inflatables circled the dhow in an attempt to stop it. People on the dhow fired at the British commandos who returned fire in self-defence, the MoD said. Two of the dhow crew were killed.
The rest of the crew surrendered and the vessel was boarded 60 miles south of the Yemeni coast.
UPDATE2: From the Royal Navy:
HMS Cumberland whilst conducting routine Maritime Security Operations in the Gulf of Aden on the 11 November had course to board a Yemeni flagged dhow, towing a skiff which they had reason to believe had been involved in an attack on the Danish-registered MV Powerful earlier in the day.More on the Russian involvement here:
Various non-forcible methods had been used in an attempt to stop the dhow but they were unsuccessful. Sea boats were launched to circle the dhow in an attempt to encourage it to stop – these boats were fired at from the dhow and the crews returned fire in self defence. The dhow crew subsequently surrendered and a compliant boarding followed. It was then clear that two personnel, believed to be pirates, had been shot and killed.
A Yemeni national was also found injured and later died, despite receiving emergency treatment from the ship’s doctor. It is unclear whether his injuries were as a result of the firefight or a previous incident involving the pirates.
An MOD Spokesman said:
“Yesterday a crew from the frigate HMS Cumberland boarded a foreign flagged dhow, believed to be Yemeni, which had been positively identified in an earlier hijacking attempt on a Danish vessel. Prior to boarding, boats launched by Cumberland to intercept the dhow were involved in an exchange of fire. Two foreign nationals, believed to be Somali pirates, were shot and killed in self defence. A Yemeni national was also found injured and later died, despite receiving emergency treatment from the ship’s doctor. It is unclear whether his injuries were as a result of the firefight or a previous incident involving the pirates. As with all shooting incidents, a post shooting incident investigation is currently being conducted.”
Russian navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo said the Russian missile frigate Neustrashimy and the British frigate HMS Cumberland each sent up a helicopter against the pirates as they tried to commandeer a Danish vessel on Tuesday. It was the first action by a Russian warship sent to prevent hijackings off Somalia.
"The pirates tried to hit the ship with automatic weapons fire and made several attempts to seize it," Dygalo said on state-run Vesti-24 television.
The British military said the Cumberland then sent boats to circle a Yemeni-flagged dhow - a traditional wooden vessel - that apparently had been involved in the attack on the Danish-registered MV Powerful and refused to halt.
The crew of the dhow opened fire at the boats, but surrendered after the British crews returned fire in self defense, the military said. A British crew boarded the dhow and found that two suspected pirates, believed to be Somalis, had been shot and killed, it said.