AT SEA ABOARD USS VELLA GULF, Feb. 11, 2009 – The crew of the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf apprehended seven pirates in the Gulf of Aden today after responding to a distress call from a nearby merchant vessel.
The event marks the first time Combined Task Force 151, a multinational effort to fight piracy in the region, has apprehended suspected pirates, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command officials said.
At about 3 p.m., the Marshall Islands-flagged motor vessel Polaris sent a distress call to all ships in the area, reporting that a small skiff containing seven suspected pirates had attempted a forcible boarding of their vessel using a ladder. Polaris crew members removed the ladder before pirates could come aboard, officials said.
Vella Gulf responded immediately and intercepted the skiff and several men on fitting the physical descriptions given by Polaris crew members. A Vella Gulf visit, board, search and seizure team conducted a consensual boarding and found several weapons.
Polaris met up with Vella Gulf, and the crew provided positive visual identification of the suspected pirates. The suspects were brought onboard Vella Gulf, where they were processed and are being held until they are transferred to a temporary holding facility onboard the supply ship USNS Lewis and Clark.
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