A team of specialized American sailors apprehended 17 suspected pirates who attacked an Egyptian merchant ship in the dangerous waters off Yemen, the U.S. Navy said Thursday.
The sailors from the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg also seized eight assault rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher when they boarded the pirates' vessel Wednesday, said the Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet in a statement.
The Gettysburg launched the operation with the help of the Korean Destroyer ROKS Munmu the Great after the pirates fired at the Egyptian-flagged motor vessel Amira about 75 miles south of Yemen's al-Mukalla port, the Navy said. Both ships dispatched helicopters during the mission.
The 17 pirates were seized were taken aboard the Gettysburg for further questioning, said the Navy. They were operating from a "mothership" — a larger vessel pirates often use to resupply the small speedboats that attack ships far offshore. The Navy did not say what happened to the mothership after the operation.
Also Thursday, Iranian state television said the country will send two warships to join an international flotilla protecting cargo ships from pirates off the Somali coast.