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Navy ship skirmishes with Somali pirates

NAIROBI, Kenya - The small gang of Somali pirates fired on an approaching ship, hoping their midnight attack would eventually bring them millions in ransom. The ragtag bandits, though, had taken on far more than they could handle: a U.S. warship.

The USS Nicholas, a guided missile frigate, was tracking the pirates when they opened fire early yesterday in the Indian Ocean, the U.S. military said. The Nicholas, which saw combat in the first Gulf War, returned fire and disabled the skiff. Navy personnel later boarded and seized three suspects. The Americans found two more on a nearby mother ship.

The attack underscored the fact that most pirates aren't terribly sophisticated, said Roger Middleton, a British piracy expert. "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," Middleton said.- AP

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