Pirate attacks thwarted by Singaporean navy vessel


The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) warship RSS Endeavour of the Republic of Singapore has disrupted two separate attacks by suspected pirates on merchant vessels transiting the Arabian Sea south of Oman.

RSS Endeavour, assigned to counter-piracy Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, was conducting counter-piracy operations east of the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden when it was alerted to a possible pirate attack.

The MV BW BROKER contacted the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organisation (UKMTO) at approximately 8:00 am on November 1 and stated they were being chased by a suspicious skiff with seven people on board. A ladder was visible in the skiff and this indicated to the crew that it may be pirates. CTF 151 Commander, Rear Admiral Kaleem Shaukat, Pakistan Navy, authorized RSS Endeavour to take appropriate steps to respond. RSS Endeavour altered course to intercept the MV BW BROKER and established direct communication with the merchant vessel. RSS Endeavour also launched one of its embarked helicopters to rapidly provide direct support to the merchant vessel.

Buoyant with confidence due to RSS Endeavour’s helicopter support, MV BW BROKER used speed, evasive manoeuvring and other BMP measures to prevent the suspected pirates from boarding and they broke off their attack.

Less than two hours later, at approximately 10:00 am, CTF 151 received another report from a merchant vessel under attack from suspected pirates. MV ELKA ATHINA, in close proximity to the MV BW BROKER, contacted RSS Endeavour via bridge-to-bridge radio and reported that their ship was being approached at high speed by another skiff. The skiff had five persons on board carrying weapons. Once again, a helicopter from RSS Endeavour was tasked to investigate and again the suspected pirates were deterred from boarding the merchant vessel. RSS Endeavour’s helicopter then located the suspected pirate skiff and followed it to its mothership.

When the suspected pirate skiff and helicopter both reached the vicinity of the suspected pirate dhow, communication was established between the helicopter and the suspected pirates. The dhow was identified as a known pirate mothership that has previously been responsible for acts of attempted piracy. RSS Endeavour’s efforts resulted in the suspected pirates abandoning their attack skiff and retreating to their mothership. RSS Endeavour’s helicopter destroyed the attack skiff and all associated pirate equipment.

After these successful disruptions, Rear Admiral Shaukat said, “The goal of Combined Task Force 151 is to deter and disrupt acts of piracy on the high seas. This morning’s disruptions by RSS Endeavour were an excellent fulfilment of that goal. I commend the Commanding Officer and crew of RSS Endeavour on a job well done, and also thank CMF and the other naval forces in the area that cooperated in this successful disruption. Thanks to all of these combined efforts this morning, two merchant crews are safe and their vessels were able to continue to their destinations.”

CTF 151, established in January 2009, is a mission based counter-piracy task force that operates in the Southern Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Somali Basin, Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean in order to deter and disrupt piracy, protecting maritime vessels of any nationality.

Operating alongside CTF 151 and NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield are other national deployments such as those undertaken by the People’s Liberation Army Navy, Iranian Navy and others.

The RSS Endeavour is a 6 000 tonne amphibious transport dock launched in 2000. The Republic of Singapore Navy has four of these Endurance class vessels. They are armed with Mistral surface to air missiles, 76 mm gun, 12.7 mm machine guns and Bushmaster 25 mm cannons.

The Endurance class ships actively participate in multinational peacekeeping efforts, including deployment to Iraq to assist with reconstruction there. In February 2009, Minister of Defence Teo Chee Hean announced that RSS Persistence would join other naval forces off the coast of Somalia for three months in 2009. Since then, two additional Singaporean task groups have been deployed to the Gulf of Aden, RSS Endurance from June to October last year and RSS Endeavour from August this year.