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US NAVY PHOTOGRAPH

February 11, 2009

U.S. Navy detains suspected pirates

The crew of the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) apprehended seven suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden Feb. 11 after responding to a distress call from a nearby merchant vessel.

Vella Gulf replaced San Antonio (LPD-17) as flagship of the CTF 151 multinational counter-piracy task force on February 4. Today's incident marks the first time CTF-151 has apprehended suspected pirates since it was created on January 8,

At approximately 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, the Marshall Islands-flagged MV Polaris sent a distress call to all ships in the area reporting that a small skiff containing seven suspected pirates had attempted a forcible boarding of their vessel using a ladder. Polaris crewmembers removed the ladder before pirates could come aboard.

Vella Gulf closed immediately with the Polaris and intercepted a skiff matching the description given by the motor vessel. The skiff contained individuals fitting the physical descriptions given by Polaris crewmembers. A Vella Gulf visit, board, search and seizure team conducted a consensual boarding and found several weapons.

Polaris rendezvoused with Vella Gulf and provided positive visual identification of the suspected pirates. The suspected pirates were brought on board Vella Gulf, where they were processed and are being held until they transfer to a temporary holding facility on board the supply ship USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1).


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