Pirates active again off the Somali coast


Only weeks after the Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force (EU Navfor), Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant, issued another warning about on-going piracy, there have been two more piracy related incidents off the Somali coast.

The first incident happened on Tuesday this week when the German frigate FGS Niedersachsen prevented 10 suspected pirates from getting far out to sea. The second incident happened a day later when a merchant ship had to repel an attack from five armed suspected pirates 460 miles south-east of Mogadishu.

FGS Niedersachsen located two small vessels – a whaler towing a skiff – close to the Somali coast during a regular anti-piracy patrol. The warship’s crew was able to observe that as well as 10 men, the whaler was also carrying over 10 fuel barrels and two long ladders – equipment traditionally used by pirates to launch attacks on ships at sea.

When the German frigate approached to carry out further investigation the men in the whaler dropped the ladders into the sea before heading back towards shore.

As the suspect vessels made their way through the surf to the beach, about 80 people were seen watching from land with some wading out to assist the suspected pirates to drag their boats back on to the beach.

FGS Niedersachsen continued to monitor the beach area which was quickly deserted after the incident.

The attack that came a day after the pirates were prevented from heading to sea was on a Hong Kong flagged chemical tanker en route from Saudi Arabia to Mozambique. The tanker was fired on by five men with automatic weapons in a fast-moving skiff. The private armed security team on board was able to repel the attack. There were no reports of injuries following the attack. Naval forces immediately closed the sea area to locate the suspect pirates.

Speaking about the incidents Tarrant said: “It is clear Somali pirates still have the intent and capability to get out to sea to attack ships and take crews for ransom. These attacks not only cause misery to ships’ crews and their families, they also generate instability in world trade and humanitarian aid routes. Naval counter piracy forces and the maritime shipping industry must remain vigilant so that these pirates do not succeed.”

According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), as of October 22, there have been eleven reported incidents of piracy off Somalia this year, including two hijackings. There have been more reported incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, with 30 incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea this year, including two hijackings.