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A Danish ship that is part of the U.S.-led anti-piracy efforts in coastal waters off Somalia thwarted a potential pirate attack on a commercial Chinese vessel on Wednesday, U.S. Navy officials said Thursday.

The Danish flexible support ship HDMS Absalon closed in on a skiff armed with weapons after receiving a distress call from the Chinese M/V Yandanghai, according to a news release from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, based in Bahrain.

A Danish boarding team found several weapons aboard the skiff, including a rocket-propelled grenade, four AK-47 assault rifles, two grenades and a knife, the release stated. The weapons were confiscated but the suspected pirates were not taken into custody, said Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet. He did not have details on how many people were aboard the skiff or what was done with them after the thwarted attack.

The Chinese vessel’s crew used fire hoses to keep the suspected pirates from boarding the vessel and at a "safe" distance from the ship, Christensen said. The Chinese vessel’s captain reported to U.S. officials that a couple of the crewmembers suffered minor injures during the attack.

In January, the U.S. Navy stood up its anti-piracy task force, Combined Task Force 151, as part of a multi-nation, anti-piracy effort that patrols and monitors 1.1 million square miles of water, including the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. Shipping lanes there are used by roughly 23,000 commercial vessels each year.

The U.S.-led task force includes ships from the United States, United Kingdom, Denmark, and Turkey. Singapore is sending a vessel to join the task force as well.


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