USS Gettysburg captures 17 pirates with the help of a Korean destroyer

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An American guided missile cruiser teamed up with a South Korean destroyer yesterday to capture 17 pirates who were attacking an Egyptian ship off Yemen, U.S. Navy officals announced Thursday.The U.S. 5th Fleet reported finding a rusty old dhow being used as a pirate mother ship to attack shipping lanes. A boarding team from the Gettysburg searched the ship, finding eight assault rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and a rocket-propelled grenade.

The Somali pirates were being interrogated aboard the Gettysburg Thursday. No decision has been made on where – or if – to prosecute them.

     

The drama began Wednesday when the Egyptian-flagged ship Amira flashed a distress call that grenade-firing pirates were trying to climb aboard about 75 miles south of Yemen.

The Gettysburg and the South Korean destroyer ROKS Munmu the Great, both part of an international anti-pirate task force, sped off to help and launched helicopters to the Egyptian ship.

On the way, the choppers saw the pirate mother ship, so rusted out that it appears to be painted orange, and sent boarding parties.

The Gettysburg, based in Mayport, Fla., is the flagship for for Combined Task Force 151, a multinational counterpiracy flotilla that set sail in January to protect international shipping in the pirate-infested waters off the Gulf of Aden.

"This is another clear example of how coordination between the Combined Maritime Forces resulted in the successful disruption of pirate activity," said U.K. Royal Navy Commodore Tim Lowe, deputy commander of the Combined Maritime Forces.

"It is imperative that all maritime forces continue to synchronize their efforts to deter and disrupt these unlawful and aggressive acts."

The Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, is used by 20,000 ships a year and has become a target of modern-day pirate attacks.

Last year, 42 ships were seized and ransomed for $1 million or more each.

It is estimated that 20 ships and more than 250 sailors are currently being held hostage by Somali pirates.With News Wire Services

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