USS BUNKER HILL, At Sea (NNS) -- Guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) boarded a suspected pirate vessel in cooperation with international forces while responding to a distress call May 5.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organization received a distress call from the Panamanian-flagged merchant vessel Full City and passed the information to U.S. 5th Fleet.
An Indian maritime patrol aircraft was able to locate the vessel, and
broadcast that warships were on the way. The crew had locked themselves in
a secure space from which they could control the ship, known as a 'citadel.'
Bunker Hill and aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) were the closest naval vessels to the Full City and set course to intercept. The Turkish ship Giresun, part of NATO's counter piracy operation Ocean Shield, also responded.
While Giresun boarded Full City, Bunker Hill approached a dhow in the area believed to be the 'mothership' for the pirate attack. An SH 60 Sea Hawk helicopter from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 49, deployed with Bunker Hill, fired warning shots to stop the dhow and instructed the suspected pirates to move to the bow of the vessel. In the early evening, a visit board, search and seizure team from Bunker Hill boarded the suspected pirate dhow.
The team found and destroyed paraphernalia on the dhow, including weapons, excessive fuel and other equipment commonly used in the commission of acts of piracy. They also sank a small skiff towed by the dhow; these skiffs are often used for actual attacks and boardings by pirates.
"All hands should take pride in what they accomplished today. Under ambiguous conditions, you responded very professionally, quickly and successfully," said Capt. Dominic DeScisciolo, Bunker Hill's commanding officer.
Giresun found Full City's crew safe with no pirates on board the vessel.
"This operation demonstrated that our presence here successfully deters destabilizing activities and is effective in upholding lawful maritime order. The versatility inherent to a carrier strike group allowed for quick coordination with naval and Coast Guard assets from Turkey and India to successfully prevent a pirate attack against the motor vessel Full City," said Rear Adm. Samuel Perez, commander, Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group.
This story was updated May 7 to reflect that the Indian maritime patrol
aircraft was not in 2 way communication with the crew of the Full City as
had been previously reported.
Bunker Hill and Carl Vinson are on a routine deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.