China's navy has rescued an Italian ship from a pirate attack off the Somali coast, Chinese state media said Thursday.UPDATE: A Danish ship reportedly stopped a pirate attack on a Chinese merchant ship, too.
Few details were given in the one-line report by the official Xinhua News Agency. The ship was identified only as an Liberian-flagged Italian merchant vessel whose crew had been attacked.
If verified, the rescue operation would be the first direct engagement between the Chinese navy and Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden since Beijing dispatched a three-ship squadron for anti-piracy operations last December.
UPDATE2: More on the Danish ship activity here: The Danish flexible support ship HDMS Absalon (L 16) successfully deterred an attempted pirate attack on the Chinese M/V Yandanghai at approximately 1:30 p.m.
Absalon closed on the coordinates given by the Chinese ship following their distress call and spotted a skiff matching the description given by the captain of the motor vessel. A Danish boarding team then boarded the suspected skiff, finding several weapons, including a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), four AK-47 assault rifles, two grenades and a knife. The weapons were cataloged and confiscated.UPDATE3: More on the Chinese activity here:
The suspected pirates were unable to board the vessel due to evasive measures taken by the ship’s crew who engaged their fire hoses to keep the suspected pirates a safe distance from the ship.
According to Yandanhai’s captain, two of the motorvessel’s crew sustained minor injuries during the attack.
Destroyer "Haikou" of the Chinese navy received a SOS from the Liberia-flagged Italian ship around 10:03 a.m. reporting two unidentified yachts were approaching just about 3 to 4 nautical miles away.By "yachts," I assume the sort of "skiffs" used by pirates in the area was meant.
A shipborne helicopter with three combatants and one photographer on board was immediately sent to the scene.
"When our helicopter reached the area, the two yachts were already close to the merchant ship. They were equipped with two engines and were traveling with high speed," said Captain Chen Yi.
Hovering around the Italian ship "LIA," the Chinese helicopter fired two flares as a warning to scare the yachts awa