The German warship FGS Berlin, on patrol with the European Union Naval Force off Somalia, has engineered the release of an Indian flagged dhow and crew, disrupting a Pirate Action Group and destroying two attack skiffs.
On February 28, FGS Berlin received a distress call from a merchant vessel reporting that they had successfully repelled a pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden. FGS Berlin dispatched one of its helicopters to the position and quickly located a skiff and an Indian flagged and crewed dhow.
The crew of the helicopter established that the dhow had been pirated and the crew of 25 Indian nationals were held hostage. The suspected pirates threatened to kill crewmembers if Berlin took any action against the dhow.
The following day FGS Berlin destroyed the two unmanned skiffs towed by the dhow, without which pirates cannot mount any attack against merchant shipping, the EU Navfor said.
The pirates escaped to the Somali coast, leaving behind the dhow and its crew. Once a team from FGS Berlin investigated the situation on board the dhow, four crewmembers were given medical treatment. After food and water was delivered to the Indian crew, the dhow continued to her next port of call.
Meanwhile, last week the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported that pirates attacked a ship at the northern end of the Strait of Hormuz, marking the nearest ever attack to the waterway. Armed security guards onboard the container vessel fired warning shots at three pirate boats, deterring the attack on February 25.
Cyrus Mody, an IMB manager, told Bloomberg that the attack “is a sign of concern if they are moving so deep into the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.”
As of January 31 there have been 37 pirate attacks around the world this year and two successful hijackings. Of these, Somali pirates were responsible for 13 incidents and both successful hijackings. They are holding ten ships and 159 hostages, according to IMB figures.