NAIROBI, Kenya - U.S. naval forces say they've captured five pirates afterexchanging fire with them, sinking their skiff and confiscating amother ship.
The USS Nicholas came under fire early Thursday from pirates inan area west of the Seychelles. Officials believe the piratesmay have been planning a take-over/ransom-seeking attack, but werenot aware they were attacking a warship.
The U.S. Africa Command said the five pirates seized wouldremain in U.S. custody on board the frigate for time time being.The Nicholas is home-ported at Naval Station Norfolk. It lefton its scheduled deployment in support of Africa Command (AFRICOM)on Dec. 3, 2009.
According to the Navy, the Nicholas crew reportedtaking fire at 12:27 a.m. local time from the suspected pirateskiff. The crew returned fire and pursued the vessel untilthe disabled skiff stopped.
At about 2:00 a.m., personnel from the Nicholas boarded thedisabled skiff and detained three people. The Navy says theboarding team found ammunition and multiple cans of fuel onboard.
After taking the suspected pirates on board, the Nicholas crewsank the disabled skiff at about 3:00 a.m.
Two more suspected pirates were captured on the confiscatedmother ship.
Last May, pirates
"If you think of the kind of young men who are doing this, theygo out into the middle of the ocean in a tiny boat. They might notalways make rational decisions, and they often attack things thatare bigger than they should (attack)," said Middleton.
"It's also quite possible that they don't have a fullunderstanding of the targets they are attacking. Perhaps they justsee a big ship they think is a worth a lot of money," he said.
Thursday's attack came just shy of a year since pirates attackedthe U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama and took American Richard Phillipshostage. Phillips was rescued five days later when Navy SEALsnipers onboard the Norfolk-based USS Bainbridge shot three piratesin a lifeboat.
International naval forces have stepped up their enforcement ofthe waters off East Africa in an effort to thwart a growing piratetrade.
Experts say piracy will continue to be a problem until aneffective government is established on Somalia's lawless shores.The country has not had a functioning government for 19 years.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Norfolk Police are investigating the cause of death for male found unconscious on the beach.
Suffolk police are looking for a man and a woman they say robbed a Kangaroo Express gas station on Wilroy Road Sunday afternoon.
The art of making jewelry is helping some Norfolk students learn independence and job skills.