BRUSSELS, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- NATO's counter piracy task force, Operation Ocean Shield, disrupted pirate activity in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia this week, officials said.
A Japanese maritime patrol aircraft spotted a suspicious skiff with seven suspected pirates aboard and contacted NATO, which sent the USS Carney to investigate, NATO said Wednesday in a release.
In a coordinated effort, Carney approached the skiff while the patrol aircraft circled overhead. The skiff started to flee but stopped when hailed.
NATO said the suspected pirates were observed throwing ladders and other equipment overboard.
A team from Carney boarded the skiff and seized fuel and other items it deemed useful to piracy activity, leaving the boat only enough fuel to reach the Somali coast.
In 2009, 45 ships were hijacked in the region. This year 21 ships have been taken. NATO attributes the drop to the increased presence of naval warships in the region.