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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

U.S. Navy ship opposing pirates off Somalia

Bull Nav at OPFOR links to a Fox News report that a U.S. Navy ships attempted to engage the Somali pirates that seized the Danish ship Danica White:
The U.S. Navy has fired warning shots across the bow of a Dutch ship that has been boarded by armed pirates off the coast of Somalia, FOX News has learned.

The USS Carter Hall also fired on three small boats that surrounded the commercial ship, the "Danica White," after her crew messaged for assistance after being boarded by pirates, the Navy said.

The incident began Saturday and as of Monday the Danish ship's crew was still believed to be held at gunpoint by an unknown number of pirates who forced the vessel into Somalia's territorial waters. There have been no reports of casualties.

The USS Carter Hall remains nearby in international waters, monitoring the situation. The Danish ship, which the Associated Press reported was owned by H. Folmer & Co. of Copenhagen, has not requested further assistance.
USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) would seem an unlikely ship to undertake such a mission if a destroyer or cruiser were nearby.Its website reports the armament of the ship as consisting of: "Armament: Two 25mm MK 38 Machine Guns, Two 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts and Six .50 cal. machine guns." She also may have Marines embarked.

Earlier report on the capture of Danica White here and here.

UPDATE: Navy Times coverage and more info here. Carter Hall apparently did not have embarked Marines.
The dock landing ship Carter Hall shot flares, fired warning bursts and unleashed a volley that set fire to three skiffs towed behind a hijacked Danish cargo ship off Somalia on Tuesday, but it could not prevent the freighter from slipping out of international waters and towards a known pirate camp, the Navy said.

The Danica White, a Danish-flagged merchant vessel with a crew of five, was hijacked by pirates early Saturday in view of a French warship that could not cross into Somali territorial waters to offer help. The Danica White never radioed for assistance, but the Carter Hall called to ask if it needed help, said Lt. John Gay, a spokesman with Navy Forces Central Command in Bahrain.

“They made several calls and tried to hail the ship,” he said. “They responded they were under control of pirates.”

The hijacked ship then tried to get the Carter Hall to change course so it could proceed to Somali waters unobstructed, which was when American sailors spotted at least one armed man on the freighter’s bridge wing, Gay said. That’s when the amphib’s guns opened fire.

“The USS Carter Hall fired flares and several shots across the bow as well as several disabling shots at the three skiffs in tow,” he said. “They shot at the skiffs and they caught on fire.”

Sailors used the ship’s .50-caliber machine guns, 7.62 mm miniguns and 25 mm Bushmaster cannons in the encounter, Gay said.

“As long as they’re in international waters, they can engage,” he said.

But the hijacked Danica White made it into Somali waters and the Carter Hall had to back off and watch.

“We’re observing them at this point,” Gay said. “It’s ongoing.”

The Carter Hall, a ship designed to haul Marines and their gear, left its homeport of Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., on April 10 without a Marine contingent on what was described as catch-all “maritime security operations” in the Middle East. Gay said the Carter Hall is in the waters off eastern Africa specifically for “anti-piracy search operations.”
Just my opinion, and based on incomplete knowledge, but if you're going searching after pirates, a little more in the way of "anti-piracy" forces might be useful... though admittedly I don't know what else she might have been packing.

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