The US Navy said it arrested seven suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday after a Marshall Islands-flagged ship sent a distress call to say outlaws had tried to force their way on board.
The US Navy said it arrested seven suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday after a Marshall Islands-flagged ship sent a distress call to say outlaws had tried to force their way on board. Crew members of the Polaris removed the pirates' ladder before they could clamber aboard, the US Fifth Fleet said in a statement.
A team from the guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf then intercepted a small skiff with seven men matching descriptions given by the Polaris crew, it added.
US Navy search teams "found several weapons" on the skiff used by the suspected pirates, said US Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman in Washington.
The action was carried out by a new counter-piracy multinational task force, CTF 151, operating in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.
"This is the first time that the CTF 151 has apprehended suspected pirates" since it began operating less than a month ago, Whitman told reporters.
The suspected pirates, whose nationality was not given, are being held onboard the Vella Gulf until they are transferred to a temporary holding facility onboard the US naval supply ship Lewis and Clark.
Pirates attacked more than 130 merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden last year, an increase of more than 200 percent on 2007, according to the International Maritime Bureau which tracks piracy and shipping security issues.
Heavily armed pirates operate high-powered speedboats and sometimes hold ships for weeks before releasing them for large ransoms paid by governments or shipowners.
More than 150 suspected pirates were arrested by naval patrols in the Gulf in 2008.
Somali pirates only days ago freed a Ukrainian ship they had held since September with battle tanks and other weaponry on board after receiving a ransom of more than three million dollars.
The release of the ship and its crew of 20 seamen after 134 days marked the end of one of the longest and most dramatic sea-jackings in recent years.