The crews of pirated ships are gradually becoming more savvy, if the experience of a German-owned vessel boarded by pirates in the Gulf of Aden Wednesday is any indication.
Nine pirates “with a handful of weapons,” including AK-47 assault rifles, were captured in a raid conducted by a team of US marines at first light Thursday morning, according to Brig. Gen. David Berger, director of operations for the US Marines. The troops boarded “unopposed – in other words, no shots were fired,” Berger told reporters in a briefing Thursday.
What they found when they arrived was a safe room where the crew was holed up. That, he said, was “very smart, very wise.” The crew of the vessel, the M/V Magellan Star, continued to communicate with the marines as they were boarding and rounding up the pirates, who are being detained on the war ship USS Princeton. They let marines know " 'we're safe; we're in here,' " Berger said.
The raid to retake the ship from the pirates lasted three hours, from the “first marine on to the last guy off,” he added. The 24-member raid force from the USS Dubuque conducted the rescue, which was approved by President Obama, according to defense officials. The USS Dubuque was on its way to a training exercise in Jordan when the ship sent out a distress call.
The marines entered the ship by water while helicopters conducted surveillance overhead. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has long pleaded with commercial vessels operating in the area to take basic measures to repel pirates, including urging them to speed up or pull in ship ladders when they see pirates approaching.