Friday, January 13, 2012

Pirate Feared Dead After Attack on Naval Warship Mistaken for Freighter

Five wounded and One Missing off Somalia
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – After successfully accompanying a World Food Programme ship carrying aid into Somalia and while operating close to the Somali port of Mogadishu yesterday the Spanish warship ESPS Patino was attacked with light calibre weapons after pirates presumably mistook her for a freighter. The skiff bearing seven men were immediately fired upon and the EU Navfor flagship launched her helicopter which caused the would be hijackers to throw boarding ladders, weapons and fuel barrels over the side.

In the confusion six men were arrested, five with injuries and two of which were serious enough to require immediate medical treatment aboard the Patino. A seventh man was believed to have fallen overboard and is still missing. The attack brings back memories of a similar operation in 2009 when a French warship the La Somme was attacked by mistake in semi darkness after which the crew of a skiff was similarly apprehended.

It will be interesting to see how the French deal with the captured pirates in the light of recent controversy over the fact that 90% of captives have been released without charge after no nation has been willing to step forward and press on with a prosecution and the view that many miscreants believe a jail cell in Europe or America is a cosy alternative to their lives in Somalia.

Photo: Oops! The men now face an uncertain fate.