LONDON: NATO warship USS Laboon, which is operating in the Gulf of Aden as part of NATO's counter-piracy mission, code-named Operation Ocean Shield,
disrupted a group of suspected pirates yesterday. The US warship received a distress call from the master of a merchant vessel, who reported that his ship was being fired upon by men in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC). As USS Laboon raced to the scene, the Indian warship INS Rajput, who was patrolling nearby, also helped to intercept the skiff.
When USS Laboon approached the skiff, the men onboard were seen throwing items in to the sea and when the US Navy team went on board they found several pieces of piracy related paraphernalia.
This pirate disruption is in fact the second in two days for the NATO warship. On Friday USS Laboon also prevented pirates from successfully attacking a merchant vessel sailing in the Gulf of Aden. When the men saw USS Laboon appear on the horizon they broke off the attack and tried to escape. Unable to outrun the warship, the skiff was eventually stopped in the water and the men surrendered.
Speaking about the piracy disruptions, Commander Donald J. Donegan, the Commanding Officer of USS Laboon commented, "The two intercepts of pirate skiffs in two days highlights the outstanding cooperation that is being achieved in the Gulf of Aden. The prompt and accurate reporting by merchant ships alerted the maritime forces, and yesterday's disruption was made easier by the close coordination between NATO and the Indian naval assets on patrol."