Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pirate Vessel Captured In Freight Shipping Lane

Operation Atalanta Has Another Success
Shipping News Feature

INDIAN OCEAN – The waters around the Socotra archipelago which are regularly plied by container vessels and bulk freight tankers alike are sometimes referred to as ‘pirate alley’ given the number of hijacks attempted close to the Yemeni ruled island group but there will be one less criminal gang able to operate in these waters following another successful manoeuvre by the forces of Operation Atalanta this week.

Last night the EU Naval Force flagship, ITS San Giusto stopped and apprehended a skiff with 7 suspect pirates onboard. The naval vessel was carrying out counter-piracy patrols as part of Operation Atalanta and had sighted the skiff carrying a ladder and up to 20 fuel drums 180 miles east of Socotra and immediately launched its helicopter to investigate. Once at the scene, the boarding team from San Giusto boarded the vessel and apprehended the men. Speaking about the successful capture of the skiff, Rear Admiral Potts, Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force said:

“This was the first sighting of a suspect pirate vessel in the Somali Basin for over 3 months and EU Naval Force got to it before it had a chance of carrying out an attack on ships transiting the area. We knew, as the monsoon period ended this month that pirates would try their luck at sea and this is why we have constantly warned against complacency. My message to the pirates is clear – we are watching you and we plan to capture you if you put to sea. Equally, this is an indication that pirates still intend to get out to sea and all involved in countering piracy, whether they are the military or industry must remain vigilant and prepared."

After gathering intelligence, the skiff was destroyed, thus preventing the suspect pirates from using it to attack ships in the future. We await news of the captured men’s fate as, all too often in the past, the task forces operating in the region and in the coastal waters off Somalia, have released suspects due to the lack of will from international authorities to take responsibility for bringing them to justice or insufficient prima facie evidence. 

Whilst the inclement weather has been disrupting pirate operations the men of EU Navfor have not been sitting idly. Last Sunday (7th October) ITS San Giusto provided much needed medical assistance to a crew member of Bahamas flagged merchant vessel MV Anna Victoria.

The sailor had broken both his legs following an accident at sea and the EU flagship, which was conducting counter-piracy patrols nearby, was able to respond quickly by sending her helicopter, with a medical team onboard. The medical team provided immediate first aid and pain relief, before the sailor was flown to Salalah in Oman, where he is now receiving further treatment in hospital. This incident mirrored others which the naval personnel have been involved in over the past few years.

Photo: ‘You’re nicked son’ nice to see they could afford a decent Yamaha outboard.