The German Navy, the Deutsche Marine, says the one of its frigates has captured nine suspected pirates who were attacking a freighter in the Gulf of Aden.
The navy says the FGS Rheinland-Pfalz, a Bremen-class frigate, responded to a distress call Tuesday morning from the MV Courier, a cargo ship owned by Hamburg shipping company Gebrueder Winter.
The International Herald Tribune says the ship reported that it was under fire from pirates armed with guns and a grenade launcher.
The navy ship sent its onboard Sea Lynx helicopter to the scene where it met up with an American helicopter sent from the USS Monterey. The helicopters fired warning shots at the pirates’ boat.
The Rheinland-Pfalz closed with the pirate vessel as a 50 nautical mile chase after which its crew boarded the pirate boat and detained the criminals.
The US Navy, meanwhile reports the Turkish frigate TCG Giresun (F-491) has joined Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 and has begun conducting counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden alongside other coalition naval forces.
CTF 151 is a US-led 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.
No African country is currently participating in this or any other effort to eradicate the scourge of piracy off the east African coast.
“Bringing another professional navy into the fold is going to make it even more difficult for the pirates to operate out here,” said Rear Admiral Terence McKnight, commander, CTF 151.
“Giresun and her crew will add even more experience and manpower to a very robust counter-piracy mission. We`re making life very difficult for those looking to disrupt the free flow of commerce in the area.”
Commanded by Capt. Cenk Dalkanat, Giresun joins CTF 151`s flagship USS Monterey (CG 61), the Danish flexible support ship HDMS Absalon (L 16), and other ships from the US and UK, which have conducted operations as part of the task force.
“Having the ability to call upon several ships sailing under different flags is a unique and extremely useful tool in our belt,” said Cmdr. James Harlan, afloat operations officer, CTF 151.
“It gives us a wide array of experiences, a lot of flexibility and allows us to cover a lot more water space. The coordination between our ships is a key to the success of our task force.”
In another development, the US Navy Monday released nine of 16 Somali nationals arrested on suspicion of piracy last month.
They were turned over to the Puntland Coast Guard for purposes of their release.
The nine individuals were apprehended in the Gulf of Aden on 12 February after the Indian-flagged Motor Vessel Premdivya sent a distress call to all ships in the Gulf of Aden reporting that she had been fired upon at night by a small skiff, and that pirates were attempting to board it.
The nine individuals were stopped in the general vicinity of the Indian motor vessel after the attack and were found to possess weapons and equipment commonly used to facilitate pirate attacks.
“While maintaining custody of the Somali nationals, the US Navy evaluated the situation and determined there was inconclusive evidence to support their prosecution. As a result, the nine Somali nationals were transferred to the Puntland Coast Guard to facilitate their safe return to shore. While aboard US Navy ships, the Somali nationals were treated humanely, receiving food and medical care,” a CTF 151 press statement adds.
“Seven suspected pirates are still being held by the US Navy. Those individuals will remain in custody while the details of their transfer are finalised.”
CNN reports the US Navy could hand over the seven to Kenya for prosecution as early as this week.
The handover would be the first since the United States and Kenya struck an agreement to move suspected pirates caught off Africa’s east coast to Kenya for prosecution.