19 captured pirates returned to Somalia


19 pirates have been returned to Somalia after being captured aboard their hijacked dhow in the Somali Basin. The European Union Naval Force warship FGS KÖLN captured the dhow and liberated its crew.

FGS KÖLN stopped the Yemen registered dhow AL JABAL on November 8, after it was detected by EU Navfor warships and aircraft. The vessel was being used as a mothership by a group of 19 Somali pirates, who surrendered to a boarding team from FGS KÖLN. Two Yemeni crew members were released.

The dhow had been previously detected in the area of a number of failed pirate attacks and tracked to a position where an unopposed boarding could be carried out, the EU Navfor said.
“Regrettably, without sufficient evidence to prove piracy and the reluctance of the two crew members to testify against their captors, the 19 men were returned to Somalia. The dhow, with a crew of German sailors onboard, has sailed towards the port of Al Mukalla on the Yemen coast,” the EU Navfor said in a statement.

The AL JABAL was handed-over by the Commanding Officer of the FGS KÖLN to the Yemen Coast Guard on Friday for return to its owner.

Engineers from the German warship carried out repairs to the engine and divers cut away a rope caught around the propeller to increase the speed of the dhow for the transit to Yemen; following a rendezvous with the Yemeni Coast Guard cutter P1029, off the port of Al Mukalla, the dhow and her two crew members were able to return home.

Meanwhile, on Saturday a successful operation between a NATO warship and a Japanese maritime patrol aircraft resulted in the location and disarming of a pirate skiff operating in the Internationally Recognised Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden.

The pirate’s skiff was first detected and identified in the early morning on Saturday by a Japanese Defence Forces Maritime Patrol Aircraft conducting a routine patrol over the IRTC and its coordinates were transmitted to all counter piracy forces in the vicinity, NATO said in a statement.

The Danish Frigate HDMS Absalon, which only joined NATO’s operation Ocean Shield on November 1, was the closest unit to the position and was tasked to conduct a boarding of the suspect skiff.

Under the watchful eye of the ship’s helicopter the suspected pirates quickly realised that the Absalon’s boarding team would recognise their intent and they were observed to be throwing ladders and other pirate related equipment overboard before surrendering to the boarding team. After a thorough search of the skiff the boarding team assessed that the suspected pirates ability to conduct any further attacks was nullified and after NATO provided the crew of the skiff with enough water, food and fuel to reach to Somali Coast they were given navigational directions to the nearest land.

NATO has contributed to the international counter piracy effort off the Horn of Africa since December 2008. Its Operation Ocean Shield includes the Italian ship ITS Andrea Doria, the UK’S RFA Fort Victoria, the USS Carney and USS De Wert from the USA and the HDMS Absalon. Norway has also contributed a maritime patrol aircraft.