Forces capture Somali pirates who mistakenly attacked naval ship

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Commercial tanker? The German Navy's Spessart, seen entering New York Harbor in this photo, was shot at by pirates

A group of ships from several navies gave chase to a small pirate boat, leading to a capture, in the Gulf of Aden, Somalia. The pirates had fired upon a tanker of the German Navy, the Rhön-class FGS Spessart, in the mistaken belief she was a commercial vessel.

A small pirate skiff approached the tanker and opened fire upon her. However, sailors on the Spessart fired back. The skiff fled, and the German supply ship gave chase. After requesting assistance from other vessels in the area, Greek, Spanish, Dutch and United States warships all joined the chase. A Spanish marine aircraft and two US Marine Cobra helicopters were also involved.

The pirates are now aboard the frigate Rheinland-Pfalz

After a five-hour chase the Greeks were able to board the pirate boat, capturing the seven people on board. Their weapons were seized and they have been transferred to German frigate Rheinland-Pfalz for questioning pending possible prosecution. Assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades were among the weapons seized.

A Spokesman for NATO said "Poor judgment by the pirates turned out to be a real opportunity for seven nations representing three task forces to work together and strike a momentous blow for maritime safety and security." A spokesman for the German Ministry said the incident "showcased the incredible international naval capabilities" and "highlighted the complexity of counter-piracy operations".