Navy officials said the incident in the Indian Ocean between the Seychelles islands and the Kenyan coast is the first time the pirates have taken on a fighting ship operating with U.S. Naval Forces Africa. Three pirates on a small skiff, possibly mistaking the 445-foot guided-missile frigate Nicholas for an unarmed freighter in the dark, attacked it firing small arms shortly after midnight. The crew of the USS Nicholas "returned fire with a .50-caliber deck-mounted crew service weapon," disabling the skiff. They then took the three pirates into custody and sunk the skiff. Then the frigate chased down the nearby pirate "mother ship." Two more pirates surrendered and the mother ship was "confiscated".
The five suspected Somali pirates are being kept aboard the Nicholas until Justice Department officials determine whether to bring them to the U.S. or hand them over to Kenyan authorities. (Unfortunately, we don't "hang 'em from the yardarm" any more....)
There were no injuries to the Nicholas crew, and the initial Navy reports were unclear on whether any of the pirates was injured.
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