Navy vs. Pirates -- A Sound Ass-whipping
CNN has a report about a gun battle between pirates in a small outboard-motor driven craft and an American cruiser and a destroyer:
"At the time, the USS Cape St. George, a guided missile cruiser, and the USS Gonzalez, a guided missile destroyer, were conducting maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean, the Navy said.
"It was during a "routine boarding" of the suspected pirates' vessel that the naval boarding team noticed the men were armed with what appeared to be rocket-propelled grenade launchers, said the Navy.
"The suspected pirates then opened fire on the Navy ships," a press release from the Navy stated. "The Cape St. George and Gonzalez returned fire with small arms in self-defense."
Photographs released by the U.S. Navy were of a small outboard motor speedboat with three men aboard and writing on the side. Another photo showed what appeared to be small bullet holes on the side of a U.S. naval hull, and in a separate photo, a small boat engulfed in flames, with a long plume of black smoke."
I wasn't able to find the photos yet, but here's the Navy story, from Navy NewsStand (which is probably where the pictures discussed above will be released first). One pirate was killed and five were wounded; there were no U.S. injuries.
As always, Eagle1's place will be your best source of information for this, and all piracy-related stories. It'll be interesting to find out if this group of pirates were the ones responsible for the most recent attacks off Somalia.
You can also go to the unit homepages to get more info on the U.S. ships involved, USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and USS Gonzales (DDG 66).
Update 1326 18 March: I was wrong about where to find the photos first; it turns out Fifth Fleet put them up before Big Navy. The 5th Fleet photo gallery is here; some of the photos from this incident are here, here, here, and here. Blogger's photo function is acting up, but I'll try to post one of them as soon as it's back up.
Update 1442 18 March: Now the main Navy site has the pictures up, including the "burning pirate boat" one. Compare the color of the sky of the one at the Navy site with the same photo at the 5th Fleet site; someone played with the colors...
Update 1859 18 March: Here's the "red sky" 5th Fleet picture of the burning pirate boat:
Update 1319 19 March: Always interested in providing both sides of the story, CNN now has quotes from a spokesman for the "militias" (pirates):
"Saleban Aadan Barqad, a spokesman for the militias, confirmed the casualties Sunday to The Associated Press. He said that in total, 27 Somali militiamen had been patrolling off the coast before the gunbattle. Fourteen returned to shore safely, Barqad said on two-way radio from the central Somali town of Harardhere.
"The U.S. Navy opened fire first on the Somali militiamen's small utility boat, which was towing a pair of skiffs, Barqad said.
Barqad said that the boat caught fire, but did not explain how.
"The militiamen, "were in an operation to protect the country's sea resources from illicit exploitation by foreign vessels," Barqad said.
"Geraad Mohamud, also from the same militia group, threatened that they would kill any hostage they capture and that they would attack any ship unlawfully plying Somali waters unless their men were released." [Emphasis mine]
See, they're not pirates; they're just misunderstood militiamen who want to enforce their country's claimed 200nm territorial waters; apparently the ransom they collect from ship-owners are "fines" for violating said limits. They clearly deserve equal time to make their case in the press. Idiots.
Also, Eagle1, as promised, has much more on the press reporting of the story.