Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Container Shipping and Merchant Vessels Sail Safer as Pirate Attacks Diminish

Another Success for EU Anti Piracy Force
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – Over the past couple of years it seemed at times that every day we had another tragic tale to tell of pirate successes, ransoms paid, container and general cargo vessels hijacked and, at the worst of times the need to report the death of innocent crew at the hands of brigands. The increase in security measures, the adoption of the recommended Best Management Practices, vessels advising the authorities of their routes, the carriage of armed security personnel and, not least, renewed efforts by the world’s naval forces, has made such reports thankfully a comparative rarity.

Today’s story is of yet another success by the united navies which make up Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151) and the EU Naval Force (EU Navfor) which resulted in a reduced threat to potential targets. Earlier today Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand, under EU Navfor command, working in close cooperation with Turkish warship TCG Gemlik of CTF151 were advised by an EU spotter plane of a suspect vessel 420 nautical miles east of Mogadishu.

Both vessels proceeded to the area whilst a Luxembourg EU NAVFOR patrol aircraft maintained visual coverage from above. The vessel, a typical pirate skiff attempted to avoid capture for over an hour until a boarding team from the Turkish naval vessel managed to ‘persuade’ the suspects onto the deck of the Romanian ship whilst they searched the suspect craft. Following this the skiff was destroyed to prevent its further use and the nine suspected pirates detained whilst their case is assessed. Rear Admiral Potts, Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force, commented:

“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. 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.”

It now remains to be seen what will happen to the suspects, in many cases reported previously the captives are merely released back after a short cruise home aboard the ship which holds them prisoners just to be dropped on a convenient beach, not something which pleases the shipping community at large. It seems incongruous that despite having enough evidence to destroy the suspect vessel the naval forces do not believe they have a prima facie case for prosecution.

Photo: The ROS Regele Ferdinand worked closely with TCG Gemlik to apprehend nine suspected pirates. Courtesy EU Navfor.