The mission — using small craft to reach the deck of German-owned vessel as the crew huddled in a safe room below — ranks among the most dramatic high seas confrontations with pirates by the task force created to protect shipping lanes off lawless Somalia.
The crew managed to kill the engines before taking refuge in an panic room-style chamber, leaving the ship adrift and the pirates so frustrated they started damaging equipment after hijacking the vessel on Wednesday
Lt. John Fage, a spokesman at the US Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, described the predawn raid as an “air and sea” assault that included Cobra attack helicopters for surveillance and co-ordination.
It was the first boarding raid since the multinational task force was formed in January 2009 to patrol off the Horn of Africa, said US Navy Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost in Bahrain.
Lt Fage said there were no injuries reported among the Marines or 11-member crew of the Magellan Star. The pirates were armed with AK-47 assault rifles, but “there were no shots fired” on either side, Fage said.
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