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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Omani War ship saves life at sea and USA Navy ship captures pirates

By Cindy Clayton
The Virginian-Pilot
© April 7, 2010

The Navy guided-missile destroyer McFaul has captured 10 pirates after an attack on a ship near Salalah, Oman.

The pirates pulled alongside the motor vessel Rising Sun on Tuesday and were firing small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, prompting the crew to send out a distress call, according to a news release from the U.S. Navy.

The Rising Sun’s crew increased its speed and used evasive maneuvers such as spraying the attackers with fire hoses, the release says.

The maneuvers worked and the pirates broke off their attack and returned to their mother ship, an Indian cargo dhow under their control.

The Oman Navy warship Al Sharquiyah arrived first on the scene, and as it approached the dhow, nine sailors who were being held hostage jumped into the water, the release says.

One of the sailors drowned, but the others were taken aboard the Omani Navy ship.

The McFaul arrived as the Omani crew was helping the sailors who escaped. The McFaul’s crew directed the pirates to surrender by putting their hands in the air and gathering on the bow of the seized dhow. As they complied, they could be seen throwing weapons overboard.

Two boarding teams from the McFaul took control of the dhow and detained the pirates, who were transferred to the U.S. destroyer Carney, where they will be held until they can be transferred for prosecution, the release says.

The surviving sailors who escaped their captors aboard the dhow were returned to the vessel, according to the U.S. Navy.

The McFaul is attached to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group in support of maritime security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

The capture comes about a week after two other Navy ships encountered pirates near the Seychelles.

Late last week, the destroyer Farragut was called to the scene of a Sierra Leone-flagged tanker that came under attack by three pirate skiffs, according to a Navy news release. The Farragut is homeported in Mayport, Fla.

An SH-60 B Seahawk helicopter from the Farragut went to monitor the situation while the pirates’ skiffs were boarded. The crew of the Swedish patrol aircraft watched as the pirates threw equipment overboard. Eleven pirates were found aboard the skiffs and allowed to leave after coalition forces ensured they had no other equipment to conduct attacks.

The mother skiff was sunk.

On Thursday, the Norfolk-based frigate Nicholas took small-arms fire from suspected pirates in the Indian Ocean. The ship returned fire and captured five pirates.

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