MANAMA, Bahrain (April 11) – Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), conducting counter-piracy operations near the Horn of Africa, interdicted a Yemeni-flagged dhow, Al Shahar 75, and freed three crew members held hostage by suspected pirates west of the island of Socotra, off the coast of Somalia, April 11th.

The CMF boarding team identified 15 of the men as suspected pirates, and three as members of the dhow’s crew. According to crewmembers on board, the fishing vessel was attacked and seized by the suspected pirates approximately 20 days ago. Pirates are known to use the crews of vessels they capture as both hostages and to operate their vessels as mother-ships from which to launch further attacks. It appears that the rest of the dhow’s crew was transferred off the vessel to another pirate vessel several days earlier.

The boarding team also discovered 11 AK47 assault rifles with 16 magazines, a large quantity of small arms ammunition and a Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher with grenades, in addition to other piracy paraphernalia onboard. The weapons were recorded and then disposed over-board.

Once the ship’s boarding team had ensured the suspected pirates had no means of conducting piracy with anything remaining on the skiff, they were left to continue back to the coast.

Al Shahar 75 was escorted back to Yemeni territorial waters.

Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) is a multi-national naval partnership, which exists to promote security, stability and prosperity across approximately 2.5 million square miles of international waters in the Middle East, which encompass some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.