Gulf of Aden (June 15) – A U.S. missile cruiser, USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), operating under the Singapore-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, successfully intercepted a suspected pirate skiff off the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor in the Gulf of Aden today.

The suspicious skiff was initially sighted in the early afternoon of June 15 by a Japanese Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA). The Japanese MPRA reported sighting five personnel, grappling hooks, ladders and numerous fuel tanks on board the skiff.

USS Leyte Gulf, being the nearest warship in the vicinity, was immediately tasked by CTF 151 to close in to investigate the skiff. When USS Leyte Gulf approached the skiff, the personnel on board began to throw ladders and other pirate paraphernalia overboard, and raised their hands in the air to indicate that they were unarmed. The presence of the US Warship alone acted as a deterrence pressuring the suspected pirates to abandon their equipment. The USS Leyte Gulf assessed that there was no more pirate related equipment on board the skiff and that it no longer posed a threat to shipping.

The mission based counter-piracy task force, CTF 151 exists in order to deter, disrupt and suppress piracy, protecting maritime vessels of any nationality and securing freedom of navigation for the benefit of all.

Rear Admiral Harris Chan, Republic of Singapore Navy, Commander of CTF 151, commended the coalition effort and said, “The success of this operation shows the close working relationship between the different countries with a common goal to fight against piracy. In addition, because of the strong communication linkages, USS Leyte Gulf was able to swiftly act on the prompt intelligence provided by the Japanese MPRA and intercept the suspicious skiff before she could commit any crime. We will continue in our relentless efforts to ensure the security of maritime commerce in this region.”

CTF 151 is a multi-national mission based task force established by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) in January 2009 to conduct counter-piracy operations in the area of operations which encompasses, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Somali Basin and Arabian Sea. The Singapore Armed Forces took over command of CTF 151 on March 31.