Thursday, April 01, 2010
A US warship operating in the Indian Ocean captured five suspected pirates ON Thursday after an exchange of gunfire in international waters near the Seychelles, the Pentagon said. The frigate USS Nicholas (FFG-47) took the piracy suspects into custody after the warship sank a skiff, and confiscated a suspected mother ship, said a statement from US Naval Forces. 'While operating west of the Seychelles in international waters, Nicholas reported taking fire at 12.27 am local time from a suspected pirate skiff and returned fire before commencing pursuit of the vessel until the disabled skiff stopped,' the statement said. 'At 1.59 am personnel from Nicholas boarded the disabled skiff and detained three personnel. The boarding team found ammunition and multiple cans of fuel on board.'After taking the suspected pirates on board, the Nicholas sank the disabled skiff and captured two additional suspected pirates on the confiscated mother ship. 'The suspected pirates will remain in US custody on board Nicholas until a determination is made regarding their disposition,' the statement said. The lifting of the winter monsoon in the region has spurred a fresh spate of attacks by pirates able to venture hundreds of miles from their bases and approach their prey on relatively calm seas. The Seychelles economy relies heavily on tuna fishing and tourism and the country has had several ships hijacked since 2008. In a separate incident, six Seychellois fishermen rescued from Somali pirates were returned home ON Wednesday after three days of high-seas drama which saw the Seychelles coastguard sink several pirate boats.