The Turkish Navy vessel TCG Giresun has detained 14 Somali pirates and rescued seven Yemeni sailors who were being held hostage aboard their fishing dhow.
The Giresun (F-491) intercepted the pirates 190 nautical miles off the coast of Oman on Friday morning after the vessel, towing a skiff, was spotted by the Giresun’s S-70B Sea Hawk helicopter.
Turkish commandoes stormed the Yemeni fishing vessel and seized nine AK-47 assault rifles, one RPG-7 rocket launcher, three RPG-7 warheads, ammunition and other equipment, including extra fuel barrels, ladders and communication and navigation devices, according to the Turkish Navy.
Turkey has since 2009 contributed to patrolling the pirate-infested waters off Somalia. The Giresun is the Turkish flagship of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG 2) Immediate Reaction Force, which is conducting Operation Ocean Shield. Other SNMG 2 ships include the HDMS Absalon (Denmark); ITS Grecale (Italy); RFA Fort Victoria (United Kingdom); USS Dewert (United States) and USS Carney (United States). SNMG 2 alternates with SNMG 1 every six months for Ocean Shield.
The Standing NATO Maritime Group vessels (including their helicopters) are permanently available to NATO to perform different tasks ranging from participating in exercises to actually intervening in operational missions. These groups provide NATO with a continuous maritime capability for operations and other activities in peacetime and in periods of crisis and conflict.
TCG Giresun is an Oliver Hazard Perry class guided missile frigate, which was decommissioned from the US Navy in May 1996 and transferred to Turkey in August 1997. The vessel was extensively modernised to become part of the Gabya class of frigates.
Giresun has been involved in previous counter-piracy operations – on March 16, 2009, she, along with HDMS Absalon, successfully prevented a pirate attack on the Vietnamese cargo ship MV Diamond Falcon. On February 27, 2011, the Giresun repulsed pirate attacks against the MV Kiran Asya, MV Avramit and FV Zen Hua off the coast of Oman and on March 6, 2011, she aided the USS Bulkeley in the capture of 4 pirates who had attacked the MV Guanabara.
On April 24 last year she freed a Yemeni fishing vessel, capturing pirates on board and freeing seven crewmembers, who had been held hostage for nearly two weeks. And on March 17 this year, the Giresun captured seven pirates in a skiff off the coast of Somalia, capturing five AK-47s and one RPG-7 rocket launcher.
According to the International Maritime Bureau, as of April 23 there have been 121 pirate attacks around the world this year, which resulted in 13 hijackings. Somali pirates were responsible for 51 incidents and 11 hijackings, which resulted in the capture of 158 hostages. At present Somali pirates are holding 12 vessels and 173 hostages.
Oceans Beyond Piracy has estimated that piracy cost the world economy US$7 billion last year – of that figure, US$2 billion was spent on multinational military operations against pirates and anti-piracy equipment and onboard security guards.