HMS Cumberland, Lynx helicopter, rigid-raider craft, and the pirates’ dhow.
Embattled with two Royal Navy assault craft manned by commandos armed with machineguns and SA80 rifles, two Somali pirates in a Yemeni-registered fishing dhow were killed instantly, and a third pirate (believed to be a Yemeni who may have been injured from a previous gunfight) died later.
The Royal Navy described the pirates as “compliant” after the gun battle — and by the time the Royal Marines boarded the dhow.
The firefight in the Gulf of Aden, occurred 60 miles south of the Yemeni coast and involved the HMS Cumberland — Royal Navy Type 22 frigate. A Royal Marine unit stands by onboard for rogue ship confrontations.
HMS Cumberland is on anti-piracy patrol as part of a NATO maritime force, suspected the dhow which was towing a skiff, and identified it as a vessel which had been involved in an attack on the Danish-registered MV Powerful the day before. The pirates had opened fire on the MV Powerful — cargo boat — with assault rifles.
The Royal Marines with air support from a Lynx helicopter —also from the HMS Cumberland — used rigid-raider craft to confront the pirates’ dhow by circling the pirates’ boat to encourage them to halt, the pirates, a crew of Somalis and Yemenis, aimed their assault rifles at the Royal Marine and started shooting. The Royal Marines returned fired in self defense with deadly consequences for the pirates and then boarded the dhow — a stolen Yemeni-registered fishing vessel.
Success of a new policy of maximum robustness for the Royal Navy on the high seas seems to show some success with the first time the Royal Navy had been engaged in a fatal shoot-out on the high seas.