Some Fifth Fleet News:

USS ASHLAND, Gulf of Aden – At approximately 5:00 a.m. local time, the USS Ashland (LSD 48), was fired upon by a skiff manned by suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden, approximately 330 nautical miles off the coast of Djibouti.

During the attack, the Ashland received small arms fire on the port side from the six man crew of suspected pirates aboard the skiff. The Ashland, in accordance with her rules of engagement, returned fire.

USS Ashland fired two rounds at the skiff from her MK-38 Mod 2, 25mm gun. The skiff caught fire and the suspected pirates abandoned the skiff.

This is the latest in a number of incidents over the last 120 days involving pirates in the Gulf of Aden intentionally engaging men of war. USS Nicholas (FFG-47) and USS Farragut (DDG-99) were both apparently engaged, while USS McFaul (DDG-74) captured ten pirates on Wednesday after answering a distress call.

This begs the question of why pirates would actively engage US and foreign warships on the high seas? Does this represent a shift in tactics? Or is this simply a matter of more complete recording of ongoing incidents? If it is the former, I would like to hear opinions as to what end this shift is aimed at. If not, someone please explain the logic of firing on a 16,000-ton gray hull. Were the pirates looking to hold the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit for ransom?

Hey look! A well deck!

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Foreign Policy, Homeland Security, Marine Corps, Maritime Security, Navy

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  • I think its deliberate.

    I can’t believe that the pirates can’t identify the difference between a merchant vessel and a warship so the attacks are planned. The real question is …who’s bank rolling it? Is their a bounty? Not on the warships themselves but if a sailor is injured or killed?

    Another factor that I think should be considered is a repeat of a “Persian Gulf Shootdown”. Instead of an airliner being targeted, it can be reasonable to assume that warships will become a bit more vigilant if these attacks continue. If AQ is able to push unarmed civilians into the fray and mix them with some boats attacking the warships then you have the humanitarian outrage that will give pirates almost free reign again.

    Perhaps tin foil hat but you did ask the question. Oh and cheers to the well deck. Is there anyway that the British stern ramp concept can be applied to the America class LHA?


    I think it’s a combination of a large, expensive looking ship, seen through a Khat induced haze.

  • Might be worth engaging a PAO on this one, either NAVCENT or any of the countries participating in CTF152. See what they can tell you about these guys and their situation.


    Note the time, it was dark or just beginning to get light. To a poorly trained sailor, all ships look gray at night. I would bet it is a case of mistaken identity.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    I’m with USNVO and F. Gump: “Stupid is as stupid does.”

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Bet they are eating three meals a day and using a commode for the first time in their lives. The rest of the village should have it so good….

  • Grandpa Bluewater


    Absent an effective and modestly uncorrupt local and central government, those villagers – and their great grandchildren – won’t “have it so good”.

    Africa…genocide, religious war, starvation, tyranny, brutality, endemic disease, chaos, and filth may not be inevitable…but it’s the way to bet.

    Especially since their greatest benefactor, Bush the younger, is out of power.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Agreed. Point being, if you can risk a 25mm hole in you, capture might be worth a chance.

  • Poor lighting conditions, looking up from a small boat and being tired can lead to misidentifying of ships.

    The “pirate kings” behind these wretches will mourn the loss of the expensive outboards on the skiff more than the loss of another boat crew.

    Life is very hard in a failed state.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    I smell a $15 million “Eyeglasses for Pirates” UN relief program about to start up!

  • Grandpa Bluewater


    Do you mean?:

    He who dares wins…

    reading and writing and ‘rithmetic

    taught at Club Fed… with full medical?

  • Spade

    Solomon: “I think its deliberate. I can’t believe that the pirates can’t identify the difference between a merchant vessel and a warship so the attacks are planned.”

    On the other hand, some people are stupid.

  • Martin

    Ha ha, talk about outclassed. AK’s vs a MK-38 Mod 2, 25mm gun using in all likelyhood MK210 High Explosive Incendiary. Hoo ha.