PR-1138E | Date: 7/24/2011
On July 23, 2011, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) provided Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) with a report on the investigation into the May 10, 2011 USS STEPHEN W. GROVES’s (FFG 29) counter-piracy interdiction of the Taiwan-flagged fishing vessel Jih Chun Tsai 68, which had been hijacked in March 2010 and was being used as a pirate mother-ship to launch attacks against civilian vessels. The report was based on information provided by the U.S. Department of Defense following an investigation by the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
The USS Stephen W. Groves (SWG), operating under NATO-led counter piracy Combined Task Force 508, was directed by Combined Task Force 508 to conduct an operation on May 10, 2011, against the Jih Chun Tsai 68 to disrupt further pirate action. For over a year, the Jih Chun Tsai 68 was used by Somali pirates to launch attacks against civilian vessels off the Horn of Africa.
During the operation the SWG carried out a graduated use of force in an attempt to compel the pirates to surrender, including verbal warnings; warning shots fired in front of the Jih Chun Tsai 68’s bow; and firing additional rounds to disable pirate skiffs located on the fishing vessel’s bow. After the SWG fired upon the skiffs, the pirates returned fire with AK-47 assault rifles. The pirates subsequently surrendered. A SWG team boarded the fishing vessel and discovered a number of weapons, including rocket-propelled grenade launchers, heavy machine guns, and AK-47 assault rifles.
Members of the boarding crew also found the fishing vessel’s Master, Wu Lai-yu, deceased in his cabin. As a result of its investigation, the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command concluded that Master Wu had been killed inadvertently by ordnance fired from the SWG. Master Wu’s body was moved to the SWG and prepared for burial at sea. The NATO Task Force Command directed that Master Wu’s body be returned to the fishing vessel and a burial-at-sea ceremony be held on board. A respectful ceremony was conducted by four U.S. sailors, and Master Wu was laid to rest in his ship, which was then sunk in position at 0847.0N 05441.0E. As directed by the Task Force Command, the Jih Chun Tsai 68 was determined to be unseaworthy after the exchange of fire and was sunk to prevent it from becoming a hazard to navigation.
The United States regrets that Master Wu was lost in the NATO effort to repress piracy off the Horn of Africa. We again express our condolences to the family of Master Wu Lai-yu. On June 8 and again on July 23, AIT provided MOFA with information on seeking compensation from NATO and the U.S. Navy, respectively.