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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy has handed over 10 suspected pirates to Kenyan authorities, said Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Brown, a spokesman for 5th Fleet.

The suspected pirates were captured Jan. 21 after the USS Winston Churchill stopped a dhow about 54 miles of the coast of Somalia. Of the 26 men aboard the dhow, 10 were Somalis and 16 were from India. The Indians told the Navy that the Somali men hijacked their vessel and used it to attack merchant shipping.

The 10 suspected pirates were transferred Sunday to authorities in Mombasa, Kenya, Brown said.

Brown deferred further comment to Kenyan authorities and declined to say whether this ends the Navy’s involvement in the matter. “It wouldn’t be appropriate to speculate on the legal disposition,” he said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The Churchill was conducting routine security operations when it responded to a report that pirates had fired on a ship off the Somali coast.

While the Navy responds to distress calls from mariners attacked by pirates, it does not actively patrol for pirates, according to a Navy statement.

“The world is 70 percent water. The Navy is not big enough now, nor would it be big enough with 600 ships to actively patrol and police the entire world for piracy,” the statement says.

The Navy essentially halted its efforts to counter piracy after the Civil War, said Michael Crawford, head of the Early History Branch at the Naval Historical Center.

Crawford said the United States’ anti-piracy operations can be divided into three periods.

During the first period the United States fought states in northern Africa that seized ships for ransom, Crawford said. The United States fought against Tripoli from 1801 to 1805 and Algiers in 1815, he said.

In the 1820s, the Navy quashed pirates of the Caribbean spawned by South American countries wars of independence, Crawford said.

The Navy had less success during the last period of fighting pirates when it worked with the British navy to stop the international slave trade, Crawford said.


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