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Mercenary group aimed to hunt pirates

Besieged by criminal inquiries and Congressional investigators in 2008, Blackwater Worldwide reconfigured a 183-foot oceanographic research vessel into a pirate-hunting ship for hire, according to a New York Times report.

The Times cites a secret State Department cable released by the controversial Wikileaks website.

According to that cable, Blackwater had outfitted its United States-flagged ship with .50-caliber machine guns and a small, unarmed drone aircraft. The ship, named the McArthur, would carry a crew of 33 to patrol the Gulf of Aden for 30 days before returning to Djibouti to resupply.

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