International naval forces capture pirates off Somalia

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Warships from the European Union Naval Force (EU Navfor) and Combined Task Force 151 yesterday captured a pirate skiff in the Indian Ocean, and apprehended nine suspected pirates.

In the early hours of yesterday morning, Swedish EU Navfor Maritime Patrol Aircraft located the suspicious skiff at sea 420 nautical miles east of Mogadishu. Counter-piracy forces in the area were quickly alerted, and being the two closest warships, both the Turkish warship TCG Gemlik (EU Navfor) and Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand (CTF-151) made haste to the area to investigate, as the Luxembourg EU Navfor patrol aircraft maintained visual coverage from the air.

Once at the scene, TCG Gemlik sent a boarding team to search the suspect vessel, which had tried, unsuccessfully, to evade capture for over an hour. ROS Regele Ferdinand then embarked the suspect pirates on to the Romanian frigate for further questioning and evidence collection in order to fully assess the possibility of prosecution of the nine suspects.

After gathering intelligence, the skiff was destroyed, thus preventing the suspect pirates from using it to attack ships in the future, the EU Navfor said.
“I am delighted that through the combined efforts of counter-piracy forces in the region, once again, suspect pirates, who ventured out to sea in an attempt to hijack merchant ships and their crews in the Indian Ocean, have quickly been found and their vessel destroyed,” said Rear Admiral Potts, who is the Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force.
“As I said in October, we knew, as the monsoon period ended that pirates would try their luck at sea and this is why we have constantly warned against complacency. Once again, my message to the pirates is clear – we are watching you and we plan to capture you if you put to sea. Equally, this is an indication that pirates still intend to get out to sea and all involved in countering piracy, whether they are the military or industry, must remain vigilant and prepared,” Potts said.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, as of November 20, there have been 261 incidences of piracy and armed robbery at sea around the world in 2012, resulting in 26 hijackings. Somali pirates have been responsible for 71 incidents and 13 hijackings this year. They are currently holding nine vessels and 154 hostages.