The capture of a Yemeni dhow off the Somalian coast was all that initially went right for a suspected pirate gang. Four days later they and the captured vessel were apprehended by the European Union Naval Force’s (EU NavFor’s) Operation Atalanta after failed attempts to board three vessels.
The incidents, which played out between 21 and 23 April, were the first attempted pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa since October last year.
EU NavFor reports the incidents began on 19 April when five suspected pirates captured a Yemeni dhow off the Somali coast. They transited the coast stopping at a pirate base camp to boost their numbers.
“Two days later the Korean fishing vessel Adria was attacked with the dhow as a mother ship in the Indian Ocean about 280 nautical miles off the Somali coast. FV Adria started evasive manoeuvres and increased speed. The Spanish Fishing Vessel Txori Argi operating in the vicinity moved to assist the FV Adria with skiffs in pursuit. An hour later both vessels were approached by the skiffs and fired upon with what was believed to be a rocket propelled grenade.
“Private armed security teams (PAST) on board the FV Adria and FV Txori Argi responded, forcing the skiffs to retreat. The same day another fishing vessel, FV Shin Shuen Far 889, reported being approached by two skiffs, which retreated when the PAST on board uncovered weapons,” according to an Operation Atalanta statement.
These contacts saw EU NavFor dispatch maritime patrol aircraft with almost immediate success when the mother ship was found and identified. Working in conjunction with the airborne assets, current EU NavFor flagship ESPS Navarra intercepted and boarded the captured dhow, apprehending five suspected pirates and releasing 23 hostages aboard.
The operation was piloted by force headquarters under the command of Operation headquarters, recently relocated to Rota in Spain from Northwood in the United Kingdom.
“The support of PAST and EU NavFor active assets including the frigate ESPS Navarra and MPRAs German Jester and Spanish Cisna, Operation Atalanta controlled the situation and prevented further imminent attacks,” the statement said adding a quote from Operation Commander Antonio Martorell.
“This incident clearly demonstrates piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia has not been eradicated. The need for a strong maritime security presence in the high-risk area remains critical for the deterrence and prevention of future incidents and attacks.”