USS Nicholas (FFG 47) captured suspected pirates on Thursday, April 1, 2010, after exchanging fire, sinking a skiff, and confiscating a suspected mother ship.UPDATE: In separate news, couple of merchant ship evade capture but one suffers a wounded crewman.
While operating west of the Seychelles in international waters, Nicholas reported taking fire at 12:27 a.m. local time from a suspected pirate skiff and returned fire before commencing pursuit of the vessel until the disabled skiff stopped.
At 1:59 a.m. personnel from Nicholas boarded the disabled skiff and detained three personnel. The boarding team found ammunition and multiple cans of fuel on board.
After taking the suspected pirates on board, Nicholas sank the disabled skiff at 2:59 a.m.
An additional two suspected pirates were captured on the confiscated mother ship.
The suspected pirates will remain in U.S. custody on board Nicholas until a determination is made regarding their disposition.
Piracy is an international maritime issue that consistently affects the safety and security of the sea. The U.S. Navy works to uphold maritime law in order to prevent an environment conducive to piracy.
Nicholas, an Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate homeported in Norfolk, Va., is currently supporting U.S. Naval Forces Africa. U.S. Naval Forces Africa is the naval component in support of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).
UPDATE2: Pirates attacking ships after midnight local? I suspect the moon plays a role -see the sidebar.
See also here for local moon rise and moon set for the Seychelles, from which the following info was taken:
“CTF 151 (the international anti-piracy task force) had knowledge of three suspected pirate vessels and were able to transfer that information to the U.S.S. Nicholas, and the U.S.S. Nicholas was able to conduct an intercept of the suspected vessels. It was fantastic coordination between coalition and U.S. Maritime Forces,” said Navy Lieutenant Patrick Foughty of the U.S. Naval Forces Africa.
The five suspected pirates are being held aboard the U.S.S. Nicholas until a determination can be made as to what to do with them. There is an agreement with Kenya, in which pirates can be tried there (as Somalia’s government is poorly functioning). If there is enough evidence on the pirates, they will likely be turned over to the Kenyan courts.
If not, they may be set free.