A suspected pirates’ skiff drifts at sea after being burnt by the amphibious dock
USS ASHLAND, Gulf of Aden - At approximately 5:00 a.m. local time, the USS Ashland (LSD 48), was fired upon by a skiff manned by suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden, approximately 330 nautical miles off the coast of Djibouti.
During the attack, the Ashland received small arms fire on the port side from the six man crew of suspected pirates aboard the skiff. The Ashland, in accordance with her rules of engagement, returned fire.
USS Ashland fired two rounds at the skiff from her MK-38 Mod 2, 25mm gun. The skiff caught fire and the suspected pirates abandoned the skiff. The Ashland deployed her rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) to assist the pirates who were in the water near their skiff.
Once it was verified that the suspected pirates no longer had weapons on their person, all six were brought on board the Ashland where they received medical care. There is no apparent damage to the USS Ashland and there were no injuries to any members of her crew.
Captain John Bruening, commanding officer, Nassau Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), expressed the commitment of the ships in the Nassau ARG to ensuring the success of creating a stable and secure maritime environment.
"This is why we are here," said Bruening. "It is so much more than just putting a stop to the illegal activities of only one pirate skiff. It is about fostering an environment that will give every nation the freedom to navigate the seas without fear of attack."
Three events over the past ten days have allowed the U.S. Navy to capture a total of 21 suspected pirates. Two of these events were precipitated by attacks on the U.S. vessels, while the third was in response to a fellow mariner's call for help. USS Nicholas (FFG 47) was attacked late in the evening by pirates on March 31, resulting in the capture of five, while today's attack on USS Ashland netted an additional six. The third event, USS McFaul (DDG 74) responded to the distress call from M/V Rising Sun on April 5, helping thwart the attack and capture an additional ten suspected pirates. The U.S. Navy is now reviewing multiple options regarding these suspected pirates' legal dispositions.
Ashland was conducting routine Maritime Security Operations in the Gulf of Aden, when the ship was attacked. Currently, Ashland is supporting 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit sustainment operations in Djibouti.