European Union Naval Force, Dutch navy disrupt pirate activity


Over the weekend the European Union naval force destroyed a suspected pirate vessel while the Dutch navy frigate HNMLS Tromp liberated a hijacked fishing vessel and captured more than a dozen pirates.

On Saturday morning the HNMLS Tromp, which left the Netherlands on February 7 to take part in NATO’s Ocean Shield anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden, attempted to liberate a hijacked Iranian fishing vessel. Dutch marines in inflatable boats approached the ship but were fired at by the pirates, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports. The marines returned fire, with two pirates being killed in the crossfire.

On their second attempt to reach the fishing vessel, ten pirates attempted to flee in a motor boat, but were forced to give up when the marines fired warning shots at them. An additional six pirates were apprehended on the fishing vessel.

The Somalian pirates, some of whom were injured, are being held on the frigate, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports.

Shortly after liberating the Iranian vessel, a hijacked merchant ship approached the Tromp. According to the Netherlands defence ministry, the ship’s intention was to hijack the Iranian vessel, but it was turned away by warning shots from the Tromp.

Meanwhile, on the afternoon of Sunday April 3, the EU Naval Force Spanish corvette Infanta Elena identified and boarded a suspected pirate whaler 90 nautical miles South-East of Mombasa, Kenya.

The Infanta Elena had been asked to locate a suspected Pirate Action Group (PAG) that had attacked a merchant vessel earlier the same day, according to the European Union Naval Force (EU Navfor).

On arriving in the area, the Infanta Elena found a whaler-type boat, which together with two attack skiffs, was suspected of being responsible for the earlier attack. There were two suspected pirates onboard together with significant numbers of fuel barrels, as well as other suspected pirate-related paraphernalia, all of which were seized. The suspected pirates were detained by the warship and the whaler was destroyed. There was no sign of the attack skiffs which are thought to still be at large.

As there was insufficient evidence to secure a prosecution, the suspected pirates will be returned to Somalia as soon as operations allow, EU Navfor said.

The Infanta Elena joined EU Navfor Task Force 465 on February 26 and will serve with the Operation Atalanta anti-piracy force until May 20. SPS Infanta Elena is a Patrol Vessel of the Descubierta class and has been in service with the Spanish Navy since 1978. She has a displacement of 1 510 tons and accommodates 96 crewmembers.