U.S. Navy ship fires on pirates overtaking Danish vessel

U.S. military officials confirmed that a Navy ship fired on pirates who overtook a Danish vessel off Somalia's coast.

The USS Carter Hill, part of a U.S. task force that helps maintain security in the waters off Somalia and other neighboring countries, engaged the pirates after they hijacked a Danish cargo ship, the Danica White, in international waters off the coast of Somalia, said Lt. Denise Garcia, a public affairs officer at U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain.

The U.S. ship fired several warning shots across the Danica White's bow and also destroyed three small boats the pirates had used in their assault and were towing behind the Danish vessel, according to Garcia, who said the incident occurred Saturday.

The U.S. ship called off its pursuit after the pirates navigated the Danica White into Somalia's territorial waters, where the U.S. does not have jurisdiction, said Garcia.

The Danica White's owner, Danish shipping company H. Folmer & Co., declined to comment on the ship's current fate.

Lars Thuesen, head of the Danish foreign ministry's consular department, told the Danish news agency Ritzau Monday that it could take weeks before the crisis is resolved. He said they hadn't been able to contact the ship and were waiting for the pirates' demands.

The Danish foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

Joergen Folmer, a spokesman for H. Folmer & Co., said Saturday that the Danica White was on its way to the Kenyan port of Mombasa from Dubai when it was seized by pirates Saturday or late Friday. The crew members are all Danish.

Somali pirates, often trained and heavily armed fighters using speedboats equipped with satellite phones and Global Positioning System equipment, are notoriously active off Somalia's coast.