Spain will prosecute the six pirates who attacked the European Union Naval Force (EU Navfor) flagship SPS Patino last week. The pirates are being held aboard the vessel but will be transferred to Spain soon.
Following receipt of the evidence package, the Spanish Audiencia Naciona has confirmed it will undertake judicial proceedings, the EU Navfor says.
The pirates attacked the Patino in the vicinity of Mogadishu last Thursday following the successful escort of a World Food Programme ship carrying humanitarian aid into Somalia. After firing light weapons into the ships superstructure, they attempted to climb onboard.
The embarked detachment of Spanish Marines returned fire in self-defence and the ship’s Sea King helicopter was launched to track the skiff, which broke off the attack and the men surrendered to the helicopter after throwing their weapons, ladder and fuel barrels overboard.
The EU Navfor said five of the six men on the skiff were injured and received treatment. Two of the suspected pirates will require additional medical treatment once they have been landed. They are all currently stable and in no medical danger onboard the Patino.
The Patino is the Spanish navy’s main carrier group support ship, replacing the Teide. The auxiliary oiler and multiproduct replenishment vessel entered service with the Spanish navy in June 1995. The 17 045 ton Patino has a speed of 20 knots and a range of over 13 450 miles.
The Patino, operated from the Rota base at Cadiz, has a crew of 148 plus 19 aircrew. There is additional accommodation for 20 additional crew for example training, fleet personnel or special operations crew. The crew services include a fully equipped medical centre.
The weapons systems include two Oerlikon 20 mm guns and the vessel is fitted for two Izar FABA Systems Meroka 20mm close-in weapon systems (CIWS). The Meroka CIWS includes infrared camera and video autotracker. Three Sea King helicopters can be carried.
The Patino, the Marques de la Ensenada fleet tanker and the Contramaestre Casado transport ship are the three major tanker and supply ships in the Spanish Navy.
The seas off Somalia have been plagued by piracy in recent years as Somali gangs have exploited 20 years of lawlessness in their Horn of Africa country by seizing vessels and demanding huge ransoms for them and their crews.
Kenya’s military says piracy has become less frequent since it sent forces into neighbouring Somalia last October to fight al Shabaab rebels and stationed its navy off its southern coast.