The timely intervention of EUNavFor assets has been praised by the master of a dhow who had his vessel and crew taken hostage by Somali pirates at the weekend.
The arrival of a Lockheed P3 Orion from the Spanish Air Force, working in combination with FGS Brandenburg, the EuNavFor flagship, on the scene saw the pirates flee without harming any of the dhow’s crew. The pirates escaped with electronic equipment and money.
The master of the dhow told EUNavFor his vessel was boarded by pirates who forced him to sail to the Gulf of Aden with the intention of using the dhow as a mother ship at attack merchant ships in the area.
After the incident Force Commander, Rear Admiral Jurgen zur Muhlen said it again confirmed piracy in the Indian Ocean off the Somali coast and the Gulf of Aden “was still a very real threat”.
The weekend incident re-affirms a warning issued by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) that, while piracy figures for the first quarter of this year are the lowest since 2007, ships’ masters should be aware at all times.
Zur Muhlen started a four month tour of duty s Force Commander at the beginning of this month and the weekend incident was his first encounter with pirates. It came three days after German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, called on the Brandenburg during a routine port visit to Djibouti.
The efforts of German sailors and Spanish airmen in seeing off the Somali pirates were further proof of her words that “Operation Atalanta is one of the EU’s most succession missions”.
“Soldiers are right to be proud of what they are doing here,” she said.