Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Suspected Somali Pirates More Active, but US Navy Fighting Back

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Suspected Somali Pirates More Active, but US Navy Fighting Back

Article excerpt

End of monsoon season is bringing more aggressive activity by suspected Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. But the US and other navies are hitting back, capturing pirates and sinking their boats.

With the monsoon season mostly over off the coast of Somalia, the pirates are back. But so is the US Navy, which has confronted a dozen or so suspected Somali pirates in two separate incidents in dramatic fashion this week.

The US and Swedish navies intercepted an attack on a Sierra Leone- flagged tanker, the MV Evita, taking direct fire from three pirate skiffs floating northwest of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean March 31.

The Evita signaled it was under attack, and, working together, a Swedish patrol craft along with a helicopter from the USS Farragut located the pirate skiffs, and found grappling hooks and fuel drums aboard the boats, along with 11 pirates. Once it was determined that the 11 pirates would no longer be able to carry out attacks, Navy officials sunk their largest skiff and sent them away.

IN PICTURES: Somali pirates

The incident preceded a separate one the Navy reported Thursday, in which a pirate skiff began firing on the USS Nicholas in the same region. The frigate fired back, halting the skiff, and three pirates were arrested. Two more individuals were apprehended nearby.

Weather a factor in pirate activity

The increase in activity is the result of more seasonable weather, as the monsoon season there winds down. But it's also due to more patrols by the US and a coalition of other navies that have pledged a stronger presence in the area in the face of greater pirate impact on the shipping industry. The International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur and the UK Maritime Trade Operations office in Dubai coordinated with the Evita and coalition navies.

"The pirates have become bolder and are attacking ships further away from the Somali shores," said Rear Adm. …

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