The European Union Naval Force (EU Navfor) in cooperation with Japanese forces has apprehended five suspected pirates thought to be responsible for the first attack on a ship this year.
On January 17 an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden issued a distress call to the UK Maritime Trade Operation (UKMTO) reporting to be under attack. According to the reports, the attack was repelled by a private armed security team embarked on board the oil tanker. The pirates in a skiff then headed to a dhow which lingered nearby.
The EU Naval Force, in cooperation with other counter piracy forces, reacted quickly to the incident and a Japanese maritime patrol aircraft and a helicopter from the Japanese vessel JS Samidare, in associated support to the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF/CTF 151), located the dhow. The EU Navfor flagship FS Siroco was then able to close distance to the dhow and launch their helicopter and boarding team, the EU Navfor said.
Upon nearing the dhow, the helicopter crew and boarding team observed that people on board the dhow were throwing equipment over board, deepening the suspicion that the dhow was indeed the reported pirate mother-ship.
Once the Siroco’s team boarded the dhow, five Somali suspect pirates surrendered and were separated from the dhow’s crew and transferred to FS Siroco for further investigation.
The master’s initial statement supported the suspicion that his dhow has been pirated and his crew taken hostage several days before off the coast of Somalia. He also saidd that the suspect pirates were responsible for the attack on the oil tanker the day before.
The EU Navfor Force Commander, Rear Admiral Herve Blejean, said: “Thanks to an exceptionally effective international cooperation, we showed once more that there will be no safe haven for piracy in the area as long as Counter Piracy Forces remain fully dedicated to their task. I also congratulate FS Siroco with this success.”