U.S. military aircraft and a destroyer responding to the unrest in Libya have fired upon a Libyan coast guard vessel that launched missiles at merchant vessels in the port of Misrata.
Following multiple explosions in the port on Monday a P-3C maritime patrol aircraft fired at the VITTORIA. The 40-foot patrol boat was badly damaged and had to be beached.
In addition a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt and guided-missile destroyer, USS Barry, fired upon other patrol vessels in the port, destroying one and forcing the crew onboard a second to abandon ship.
Officials from the US Sixth Fleet say forces fired upon the vessels after receiving confirmed reports that Libyan ships were harassing merchant vessels in the port. Officials say their goal was to prevent them from firing into the port where innocent civilians could be harmed.
On Tuesday, officials were in the process of assessing the damage caused by the Libyan vessels and would determine whether or not anyone was harmed during the explosions.
In recent days, rebels have gained ground along the coastline with the help of airstrikes, reclaiming several oil towns from Gadhafi forces.