NAIROBI, Kenya – Suspected Somali pirates fired on a U.S. Navy warship off East Africa early Thursday in what appeared to be a ransom-seeking attack on an American guided missile frigate, officials said.
The USS Nicholas returned fire on the pirate skiff, sinking it and confiscating a nearby mothership. The Navy took five pirates into custody, said Navy Lt. Patrick Foughty, a spokesman.
International naval forces have stepped up their enforcement of the waters off East Africa in an effort to thwart a growing pirate trade.
Last May, pirates chased a U.S. Navy warship and fired small arms fire at it. The ship, which had recently served as a prison for captured pirates, increased speed and evaded the attack. French and Dutch naval ships also have been attacked by pirates, said Roger Middleton, a piracy expert at the British think tank Chatham House.
"If you think of the kind of young men who are doing this, they go out into the middle of the ocean in a tiny boat. They might not always make rational decisions, and they often attack things that are bigger than they should (attack)," said Middleton.
"It's also quite possible that they don't have a full understanding of the targets they are attacking. Perhaps they just see a big ship they think is a worth a lot of money," he said.
Thursday's attack came just shy of a year since pirates attacked the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama and took American Richard Phillips hostage. Phillips was rescued five days later when Navy SEAL snipers shot three pirates in a lifeboat.
The U.S. Africa Command said the five pirates seized Thursday would remain in U.S. custody on board the frigate for now. The Nicholas is home-ported in Norfolk, Va.
Experts say piracy will continue to be a problem until an effective government is established on Somalia's lawless shores. The country has not had a functioning government for 19 years.
Meanwhile, the Taiwan government said it fears a Taiwanese fishing boat may have been hijacked by pirates off the Somali coast. Officials lost contact with the 79-ton Jih-chun Tsai 68 fishing trawler on Wednesday.
A woman was transported to the hospital Sunday after being bitten by a rattlesnake on the cliffs above Torrey Pines State Beach, according to a spokesperson for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
There was a special reunion in La Jolla on Sunday with surf dog Ricochet jumping on a surfboard with quadriplegic surfer Patrick Ivison. Ivison surfed with Ricochet 10 years ago and they got to chance the ride the waves together once again.
Weekend temperatures were mild at 0-7 degrees above average. Mountain and deserts humidity will decrease through Monday as high pressure moves over Southern California.
The investigation continues into the tragic killing of a pregnant mother and her two young daughters in Colorado. The girls' father remains behind bars accused in their deaths.
At least two children had to be hospitalized Sunday as a result of a major crash that blocked multiple lanes of Interstate 8 in El Cajon.
On Saturday, the community of Alpine turned out to help the victims of the devastating West Fire. Dozens packed the Alpine Community Center for a special fundraiser hosted by News 8’s Shawn Styles.
A suspected drunken motorist in a Mercedes Benz on Sunday suffered "numerous serious facial injuries" in the Skyline community of San Diego when he crashed his vehicle into a house, which sustained minor damage, a police officer said.
Military officials on Saturday identified the San Diego- based Marine at the center of a search in the seas southeast of the Philippines that was called off earlier this week.
As the heatwave continues to torment people, shockingly high electricity bills seem to be an added annoyance this summer.