European Union and Seychelles carry out counter-piracy exercise


The Seychelles Coast Guard, Air Force and Police Force, together with the EU Naval Force Somalia – Operation Atalanta and EUCAP Nestor, have recently carried out a counter-piracy exercise in the Seychelles.

The exercise, on January 10, involved the boarding of a suspected pirate skiff that had attacked a local fishing boat. The ‘pirates’ were disarmed and taken into custody, along with evidence from the skiff. The Seychelles Coast Guard then handed over the pirates and evidence to the Police Force.

The purpose of the exercise was to practice cooperation between the Coast Guard, Police Force and EU Naval Force in a counter-piracy operation and, in particular, routines on evidence handling.

The EU Naval Force Italian frigate, ITS Libeccio, which is currently on a port visit to the Seychelles, took part in the exercise with a boarding team and embarked helicopter, the EU Naval Force said.

Speaking on completion of the exercise, the Commanding Officer of the ITS Libeccio, Commander Stefano Calvetti stated, “This was a highly successful exercise. Everything went as planned, and our Seychelles partners clearly demonstrated their high level of professionalism in fighting piracy.”

The Seychelles has been at the forefront among the countries of the region in the fight against piracy.
“The Seychelles is a showcase for the region in maritime security and counter-piracy,” said Etienne de Poncins, Head of Mission for EUCAP Nestor. “As the Seychelles’ builds its capacity, it is increasingly becoming an exporter of know-how and expertise. The common efforts of the maritime security agencies of the Seychelles and the EU are an important step in the fight against piracy”

EUCAP Nestor supports institutions involved in ensuring maritime security in the Seychelles such as the Coast Guard, Air Force, Police Force, and Supreme Court. EUCAP Nestor experts work alongside their Seychellois partners in providing advice and training. This contributes to developing the Seychelles capacities and capabilities to ensure maritime security, in particular counter-piracy and maritime governance, the EU Navfor said.
“We are very grateful to our European friends and partners for their support in maritime security and counter-piracy,” said Lt Col Leslie Benoiton, the Operation Officer of the Seychelles Coast Guard. “While the number of pirate attacks may have decreased, the threat of piracy remains real. We must remain vigilant and ready to supress it.”

Piracy is the greatest challenge facing the Seychelles, together with illegal fishing and smuggling. The Coast Guard is in charge of deterring pirates, but it’s effectiveness is limited by having a small number of serviceable vessels available to patrol its vast exclusive economic zone (EEZ) covering nearly one million square kilometres.

The Seychelles is one of a few countries to detain and try pirates captured in the Indian Ocean, but has struggled with the cost of detaining over 100 pirates that have been arrested by international naval forces in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.