Spanish Navy takes custody of Somali pirates


Six suspected Somali pirates are on their way to a Spanish court, after they were apprehended by a European Union Naval Force warship whilst trying to hijack the Spanish tuna fishing vessel FV Izurdia last month.

On October 10 the FV Izurdia reported an attack by a skiff, resulting in the HNLMS Rotterdam of NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield and the French frigate La Fayette combing the area for the pirates. The Rotterdam eventually managed to intercept the suspected pirates early the next morning.
“During our search the suspicious skiff was detected by the crew on the bridge. Soon after detection the Cougar helicopter and boarding team were deployed. The suspicious skiff was forced to stop by warning shots from the Cougar. Overall a strong example of combined use of most of the available capacities onboard Rotterdam,” said the Commanding Officer of Rotterdam, Captain Hulsker. “So, early in the pirate season, we concluded a successful disruption of suspected pirates before they were able to have another go at a merchant ship or fishing vessel. The boarding team took seven suspects onto the Rotterdam.”

On 24 October 2012, 120 nautical miles southwest of Socotra, the EU Naval Force ship ESPS Castilla took custody of six of the suspected Somali pirates, while one, a minor, will be returned to Somalia. Their transfer to Spain was ordered by Central Court of Prosecution no3, Madrid.

On 31 October, arrangements for transit of the suspected pirates were concluded and they are en-route to a Spanish court.
“In this instance the Rotterdam dealt with the threat in a timely and decisive manner and this will send a very clear message to other would be pirates that the international community is united against this scourge and the risks to you increasingly outweigh any potential gains,” stated Vice Admiral Christian Canova, French Navy and new Deputy Commander NATO Maritime Command in north west London.

However, he cautioned that “while we welcome this success we must not allow any tactical gains we make to lead to complacency. All of us who ply these waters, whether merchant or military must maintain vigilance.”