U.S. Navy arrests pirate suspects in Gulf of Aden


Seven men suspected of trying to pirate a tanker raise their hands before their arrest in the Gulf of Aden.
The U.S. Navy has captured seven suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden, the first arrests by a U.S.-led task force set up to curb rampant piracy off the Horn of Africa, a Navy spokesman said Wednesday.

Sailors from the cruiser USS Vella Gulf arrested the men Wednesday in the western Gulf of Aden — a waterway between Africa and the Middle East — after a distress call from the 420-foot (128-meter) tanker Polaris. The tanker reported that men aboard a small skiff were attempting to board the ship using ladders, but its crew removed them before the would-be hijackers could get aboard, the Navy said. The Vella Gulf found and boarded the skiff, and the tanker’s crew identified the men aboard the skiff as their would-be hijackers.

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The skiff’s men were taken aboard the Vella Gulf, the flagship of the task force now patrolling the western Gulf of Aden, and eventually will be transferred to Kenya for trial, said Lt. Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. 5th Fleet. Piracy has become a chronic problem off the Horn of Africa in recent years, with some pirates operating from largely lawless Somalia. Pirates attacked nearly 100 vessels and hijacked as many as 40 in the waters off the coast of Somalia in 2008, according to the International Maritime Bureau. The task force led by the Vella Gulf was set up in January in an effort to clamp down on the attacks in the region, the southern approach to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.

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