US forces attack three Libyan ships in Misrata


US forces attacked three Libyan ships, including a coast guard vessel, to stop them firing indiscriminately at merchant ships in the port of Misrata, military officials said on Tuesday.

The action on Monday night was against the Libyan coast guard vessel Vittoria and two smaller craft.

The statement from the fleet flagship’s home port in southern Italy said the US forces involved were an Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft, the guided missile destroyer USS Barry, and a Navy P-3C maritime patrol aircraft.
“The P-3C fired at Vittoria with AGM-65F Maverick missiles, rendering the 12-meter patrol vessel ineffective and forcing it to be beached after multiple explosions were observed in the vicinity of the port,” according to the statement.

The statement continued: “Two smaller Libyan craft were fired upon by the A-10 using its 30mm GAU-8/Avenger cannon, destroying one and forcing the other to be abandoned.”

Barry provided situational awareness for the aircraft by managing the airspace and maintaining the maritime picture.

The statement said the attack took place after “confirmed reports Vittoria and accompanying craft were firing indiscriminately at merchant vessels” in the port of the city 200 km (120 miles) east of Tripoli.

The P-3C, A-10 and Barry are currently supporting operations for Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn.

Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is the US Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of US military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. UNSCR 1973 authorizes all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya under threat of attack by Qadhafi regime forces, the statement said.