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USS Gonzalez wards off attack on civilian mariners in Indian Ocean

By doina — last modified Jun 28, 2005 12:29 PM

Published: 2005-06-28 12:29:09
Countries: Somalia

The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), currently operating as part of Task Force 51 in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, helped ward off an attack on motor vessel Tigris June 6 in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia.

The guided-missile destroyer received word of the attack via a bridge-to-bridge radio report from Tigris. The crew of the motor vessel, who escaped uninjured, reported they were under attack and being fired upon. "The master [of Tigris] sounded extremely scared and provided Gonzalez his position and requested immediate assistance," said Cmdr. Jeffrey Griffin, Gonzalez's commanding officer.

USS Gonzalez, currently conducting maritime security operations (MSO) in the area, responded immediately and began moving toward Tigris at best speed in order to render assistance. To let the attackers know of their presence, the crew of Gonzalez fired .50 caliber machine guns, energized their searchlights, and fired flares in the direction of the attack in order to illuminate the area. "I believe that Gonzalez's very overt approach was likely observed by pirates, who then broke off contact on M/V Tigris," said Griffin. "M/V Tigris appears fortunate to have had a Coalition warship in the vicinity when the attack occurred or she could have become a victim."

USS Gonzalez continued with its MSO mission while concurrently monitoring Tigris' passage.

MSO sets the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment and complements the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. MSO denies international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

USS Gonzalez deployed from Norfolk, Va., March 25 as part of the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Expeditionary Strike Group, with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), based in Camp Lejeune, N.C., and is currently assigned to Commander, Task Force 51, operating in the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command area of responsibility.

Jeff Fedor

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