Pirate attack thwarted in the Gulf of Aden

The Danish flexible support ship HDMS Absalon (L16) yesterday successfully deterred a midday attempted pirate attack on the Chinese M/V Yandanghai.
US Naval Forces Central Command says the Absalon, part of the anti-pirate Combined Task Force 151 closed on the coordinates given by the Chinese ship following its distress call and spotted a skiff matching the description given by the captain of the motor vessel.
A Danish boarding team then boarded the suspected skiff, finding several weapons, including a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), four AK-47 assault rifles, two grenades and a knife. The weapons were cataloged and confiscated.
The suspected pirates were unable to board the vessel due to evasive measures taken by the ship`s crew who engaged their fire hoses to keep the suspected pirates a safe distance from the ship.
According to Yandanhai`s captain, two of the motor vessel`s crew sustained minor injuries during the attack.
CTF 151 is a multinational task force that conducts counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea and was established to create a lawful maritime order and develop security in the maritime environment.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press adds that the Chinese navy rescued an Italian merchant ship from pirates, according to a report by China’s state news agency Xinhua.
The terse one-line report, if verified, it would be the first direct engagement between the Chinese navy and Somali pirates since Beijing dispatched a three-ship squadron for anti-piracy operations in December.
Reuters adds that the French defence ministry is saying NATO and European Union patrol ships have curbed pirate attacks in the waters off Somalia although piracy is still much more frequent than a year ago.

The number of attacks in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes spiked at 37 last November, a month after NATO began its patrols, then fell to 23 in December, 17 in January and 11 in February, data from the ministry showed.

NATO ships patrolled the Somali coast and the Gulf of Aden from October to December, when EU frigates and aircraft took over, in response to a surge in hijackings by pirates who use lawless Somalia as a safe haven.

International naval forces or the threatened vessels themselves foiled 24 of the 28 attacks so far this year, according to ministry figures provided at a news conference.

But despite the international show of force, there were still almost four times more attacks this month than the three attempts in February last year.

Security experts say that while NATO and EU operations can temporarily deter the pirates and ensure safe passage for vessels, the problem — which has sent insurance costs soaring — will not be solved until the rule of law returns to Somalia.

Hardline Islamist insurgents are fighting the government in the impoverished African country, which has had no effective government since 1991.