The past week has seen EU Naval Force (EUNavFor) Somalia Operation Atalanta warships FGS Hessen and ESPS Tornado carry out several “friendly approaches” in the Gulf of Aden.
In addition to patrols in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, EUNavFor warships and their boarding teams routinely conduct reconnaissance and surveillance operations, including visual and physical checks of vessels transiting the High Risk Area.
These checks or “friendly approaches” are conducted to gather information on piracy, as well as gaining a better understanding of the maritime community off the Horn of Africa by speaking with the crews of fishing and trading vessels in the region. During these visits Masters are also made aware of the Best Management Practices for Protection against Somali Based Piracy (BMP) including self-protection measures against pirates.
The numbers of friendly approaches by EUNavFor warships has increased due to the rising number of skiffs and dhows in the Gulf of Aden following the end of the North East Monsoon. The improved sea conditions are also more favourable for pirates to launch skiffs from the shore.
Rear Admiral Hervé Bléjean, Operation Atalanta force commander, said: “The regular communication with the local maritime community, the understanding of pattern of life and the sharing of information with all our counter-piracy partners in Operation Atalanta’s area of operation are key factors enhancing our ability to conduct effective counter-piracy operations”.
Forces of Operation Atalanta deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. EUNavFor protects vessels of the World Food Programme (WFP) delivering aid to displaced persons in Somalia as well as providing protection for African Union Mission on Somalia (AMISOM) shipping. It also contributes to monitoring of fishing activities off the coast of Somalia.