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February 12, 2009

Vella Gulf detains more pirate suspects

For the second time in less than 24 hours, the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) has intercepted and apprehended a group of suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden. This time around, nine suspects went in the bag.

At approximately 4 a.m. local time this morning, February 12, Vella Gulf responded to a distress call from the Indian-flagged MV Premdivya which reported that she had been fired upon by a small skiff and suspected pirates were attempting to board.

Upon reaching the suspect skiff, the helicopter crew from Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42, which is embarked aboard Vella Gulf, signaled for the skiff to stop immediately. When the skiff failed to stop, the helicopter fired one warning shot. A second warning shot was then fired.

The suspected pirates brought the skiff to a complete stop following the second warning shot and Vella Gulf and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) closed immediately to intercept the skiff. Visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) teams from both warships conducted a boarding and found weapons--including a rocket propelled grenade launcher.

The suspected pirates were apprehended and brought on board Vella Gulf, where they were processed and are being held until they are transfered to a temporary holding facility aboard the supply ship USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE-1). They will remain aboard Lewis and Clark until information and evidence is assembled and evaluated and a decision is made regarding their further transfer.

Yesterday Vella Gulf detained seven suspected pirates who are being held aboard Lewis and Clark.

Vella Gulf is the flagship for CTF 151, a multinational task force that conducts counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.


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