Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Another Success for Naval Forces as Pirate Attacks on Freight Vessels Remain Limited

Rocket Propelled Grenade Raiders Thwarted then Arrested
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – This week saw another success for the forces of law and order when EU Naval Force (EU Navfor) French Frigate Surcouf, operating as part of the EU’s counter piracy mission - Operation Atalanta, collaborated with NATO Warship USS Halyburton following a distress call from a so far unnamed Panamanian flagged merchant ship which was under attack by a another vessel some 260 miles from the Somali coast. As reported previously increased security measures have greatly reduced the amount of successful attacks on freight shipping in the past few months.

This latest incident happened on the 5th January and involved a fast moving attack boat with a six man crew armed with rocket propelled grenades. The pirates were thwarted by the larger vessels avoidance tactics and upon hearing the distress call, NATO warship USS Halyburton, operating as part of NATO’s counter piracy operation – Ocean Shield, and on patrol 80 nautical miles away, launched her helicopter and was able to quickly locate a suspect boat - which was by now towing another vessel, with several men on board.

In another truly international operation a German EU Navfor Maritime Patrol Aircraft kept watch overhead whilst the French warship made best speed to the area where upon arrival, and in full cooperation with the NATO warship, the boarding team from Surcouf boarded the two suspect vessels and apprehended twelve men in total. All twelve men are currently being held on board Surcouf for evidence collection in order to fully assess the possibility of legal prosecution.

Despite the overwhelming evidence against the criminals it is feared by those in the shipping industry that once again they will simply been returned to the coast which will not be seen as a serious deterrent by the ship owning community.

Photo: A pirates view as the futuristic lines of the Surcouf bears down on them (Courtesy EU Navfor)