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A US CTF 151 helicopter comes under fire from pirates

(BRUSSELS2) The pirates – aboard a captured ship (the Win Far) – did not hesitate on Tuesday evening (August 26, 20 p.m.) to shoot at an American CTF151 helicopter which was flying over it. More fear than harm apparently. The SH-60 helicopter belonging to HSL 49 squadron embarked aboard the USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) “was not affected. And no crew member was injured“, announces the CTF151 HQ in Bahrain. In fact, it was only when returning to their home ship and seeing again that the soldiers noticed the incident, by reviewing the bands recorded by their radar (FLIR). The Win Far, a Taiwanese boat captured on April 9 with its 30 crew members, served on several occasions as a mother ship for pirates, notably in the attack on the Maersk-Alabama. It was a routine flight, assures CTF151. But we know that the international forces in the region have chosen to have an offensive attitude on the mother ships to reduce the scope of action of the pirates (read First assessment). This is the first time that shots against an international force helicopter have been reported. This confirms concerns about a possible tightening of the pirate-military confrontation.

(26 Aug., at approximately 8:00 am local time), Somali Pirates aboard Motor Vessel (M/V) Win Far, fired what appeared to be a large caliber weapon at a US Navy SH-60B Helicopter from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49, embarked aboard USS Chancellorsville (CG 62). “No rounds of ammunition struck the SH-60B. The SH-60 crew did not return fire. No personal injuries resulted
from the incident”, CTF 151 HQ say. Win Far is a Taiwanese-flagged vessel that was pirated April 6, 2009, and over the past 135 days it has been used as a “mother ship” to conduct other known pirate attacks, most notably the US flagged Maersk-Alabama in April 2009 The helicopter was conducting a routine surveillance flight of M/V Win Far currently held at anchorage by Somali pirates south of Garacad, Somalia when the incident occurred. During the flight, aircrew observed activity, but could not ascertain they were fired upon until their return to Chancellorsville and review of Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) video, which recorded the incident. The helicopter was approximately 3,000 yards from Win Far when it was fired upon. More than 30 crewmembers remain as hostages aboard the pirated vessel M/V Win Far.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).