Monday, June 10, 2013

Pirate Sights Aim Lower as Bulk Freight and Container Shipping Remains Vigilant

Another Success for the Forces of Law and Order
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – GULF OF ADEN – WORLDWIDE – Attacks on bulk freight and container shipping remain way down on previous years thanks to the ramped up security by both owners and the naval vessels which remain permanently on alert. Last week, the EU Naval Force (EU Navfor) saved fourteen Indian sailors from pirates who took control of their cargo vessel in the Gulf of Aden but abandoned the attack hours later after EU Naval Force warship HSwMS Carlskrona, working in tandem with NATO counter piracy Dutch warship HNLMS Van Speijk, neutralised the problem with no need for violence.

The master of the Indian dhow Shahi Faize Noure had sent out an alert on the morning of June 5th, saying that it was under attack from 12 armed pirates off the coast of North Eastern Somalia. Attacks on these smaller, more local vessels have not diminished as the hijackers become less choosy now that richer pickings are so much scarcer. Upon hearing the shippers alert the United Kingdom Marine Trade Operation (UKMTO) passed it on to the naval forces in the area and the closest vessel, the Van Speijk immediately headed for the scene.

The Royal Swedish Navy warship, HSwMS Carlskrona, which has been part of the EU’s counter piracy mission, Operation Atalanta since 6 April, also closed upon the scene, located the dhow and, as darkness fell, maintained a constant watch on the vessel. As the HSwMS Carlskrona’s helicopter overflew the scene, the pirates, now under increasing pressure from the military forces, forced the master to close on the Somali coast so they could abandon the vessel in the dead of night rather than risk a confrontation with far superior forces. Shortly afterwards it was with a great sense of relief that the Indian master was able to report that all the pirates had left his ship and that none of his crew were injured. Speaking about the incident, the Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force, Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant, said:

“What is important is that fourteen Indian sailors are now safe and able to return to their families, after what must have been a terrifying ordeal. This latest attack once again shows that the threat from piracy is real. We must all remain vigilant.”

Rear Admiral Natale, who handed over the command of NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield to Commodore Henning Amundsen (Norwegian Navy) on 7th June 2013, echoed the sentiments saying:

“Cooperation has once again proved to be the strongest defence against piracy, the last successful pirate attack happened now more than a year ago but isolated events such as this one shows that we must not lower our guard. Vigilance will always be the best practice for ships transiting through the area.”

Photo: In darkness HSwMS Carlskrona's boarding team approach to verify that the pirates have left the dhow and to check on the fourteen crew members.