Italy delivers patrol boats to Somalia


Italy has delivered four patrol boats to Somalia in order for them to patrol the East African country’s ports and coastline.

The Italian Ministry of Defence on 23 May announced the delivery to the Federal Republic of Somalia.
“The initiative was implemented thanks to the bilateral talks held by the Italian Ministry of Defence and the Federal Republic of Somalia, and aims at fostering reconstruction and strengthening the peace-establishment and stabilization process in the African country, within the framework of European missions EUTM Somalia and Regional Maritime Capacity Building in the Horn of Africa and the Western Indian Ocean,” the Italian Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

The four vessels were formerly operated by the Italian Navy and can accommodate up to 15 people.

The Ministry of Defence said that transit along the Somali is still considered a risk and is still patrolled by a number of national and international naval assets, including assets from the EU Naval Forces’ counter-piracy operation Atalanta, which, since March, includes the Italian Navy Frigate Espero.

Somalia has seen a resurgence in pirate attacks this year, with several hijackings. The most recent came on Friday when communication with a Mongolian fishing vessel was cut when it requested help, fearing it was being followed by a suspected pirate vessel. South Korea dispatched its anti-piracy naval unit to waters off Somalia in response.

On 23 May, Somali pirates hijacked an Iranian fishing vessel to use as a base to attack bigger, more valuable ships, part of an upsurge in attacks following years of relative calm. May has seen a new rash of attacks, with two ships captured and a third rescued by Indian and Chinese forces after the crew radioed for help and locked themselves in a safe room.

The sudden string of attacks by Somali pirates comes after years without a reported incident. Attacks peaked with 237 in 2011 but declined steeply after ship owners improved security measures and international naval forces stepped up patrols.

Italy has in the past provided security assistance to Somalia, and in March 2015 donated 54 vehicles, including trucks and MAV 5 armoured vehicles, to the country in an effort to bolster the security situation there.