The Dutch naval vessel HNLMS Evertsen has captured seven pirates aboard a dhow and rescued seven pirated crewmembers. The pirates are believed to be responsible for unsuccessfully attacking the Turksih bulk carrier MV Namrun.
The Namrun was attacked by Somali pirates on June 27 whilst underway in the Arabian Sea, approximately 110 nautical miles north of Socotra. The pirates were aboard a dhow and as it approached the bulk carrier, two pirates hiding under a blanket appeared with weapons in hand and proceeded to fire on the ship with rocket propelled grenades and small arms. The armed private security guards on board the Namrun returned the fire causing the pirates to break off the engagement and move away. There were no injuries to personnel on board the ship, but it is reported that three pirates may have been killed during the exchange.
After receiving notification of the attack from the Namrun, the commander of NATO’s Task Force in the area, Commodore Ben Bekkering, dispatched the Evertsen, after consultation with other maritime forces, including the European Union Naval Force.
The warship, operating as part of NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield, covered almost 300 nautical miles in 10 hours to the area north-east of Socotra. Although known positions seemed to indicate the dhow was heading south toward Somalia, the bad weather caused by strong monsoon winds and a very rough sea forced her back.
After an intensive search, aided by a Japanese maritime patrol aircraft, the Lynx helicopter of Evertsen detected the dhow on June 28, as it entered Yemeni territorial waters. At first light the next day, as the dhow headed south towards Somalia, HNLMS Evertsen approached the dhow for a boarding. The dhow initially attempted to evade at speed. As the boarding team approached, the hijacked crew jumped overboard. While they were brought to safety, the dhow was secured by Dutch marines who detained seven suspected pirates.
Confronted by HNLMS Evertsen, the suspected pirates gave up any attempt at further resistance. “This action proves again that pirates in this region have not yet given up, but multinational and coordinated efforts by all counter-piracy forces works”, stated Commander Boots, commanding officer of HNLMS Evertsen.
The Omani flagged dhow Nebarkad had been hijacked on June 20 off the coast of Oman, and was used by the pirates to attack merchant vessels in the Arabian Sea. The seven hijacked Indian and Bangladeshi crewmembers said they had been forced to sail the dhow for Somalia but bad weather had forced them to return to the coast of Yemen.
Two days after its rescue, the dhow sailed home, escorted by the Evertsen. On Sunday the vessels met the Omani naval ship Al Muazzar, which had also been searching for the dhow. Escorted by the Omani navy ship the dhow and its crew sailed home.
“Of course we are here because of the importance of the sea lanes of communications and their relevance to global economy”, said Bekkering. “But the smile on the faces of the sailors of the dhow paints at least as strong a picture as container vessels arriving in Rotterdam”.
There have been several attacks off the Horn of Africa by Somali pirates. On June 25 pirates armed with guns, in two skiffs, approached a liquid petroleum gas tanker underway. An Iranian Naval warship escorted the tanker until the skiffs were clear. On June 12, six skiffs with 3 to 8 pirates in each approached a tanker underway, but after the onboard security team displayed their weapons, the pirates moved away, but not before approaching the vessel five times.
According to the International Maritime Bureau, as of June 25 there have been 168 incidences of piracy around the world, and 19 successful hijackings. Somali pirates have been responsible for 67 attacks and 13 hijackings. They are currently holding 13 vessels and 185 hostages.