Monday, November 8, 2010

Pirates Attack EU Warship Whilst She Accompanies Freighter

Hostages Used as Shields During Incident
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – The increase in pirate activity around the African East coast continues with news that a gang had the audacity to launch an attack on a Spanish warship this week. Meanwhile came a report that a South African yachtsman, who yesterday escaped capture by pirates when he refused to cooperate with their demands, was this afternoon transferred to South African authorities in Mombasa, Kenya.

During the night of November 6, the EU NAVFOR warship ESPS Infanta Christina was attacked off the East coast of Somalia by a vessel identified as the MV Izumi, a bulk freight carrier that had itself been pirated on 10 October as per our earlier report. The EU warship had been escorting the MV Petra 1, which had been chartered by the African Union Military Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), at the time. This is the first ever attack on an EU warship conducting an AMISOM escort.

During the incident, the Spanish warship increased speed and manoeuvred immediately in order to place herself between MV Izumi and her escort. The attack was disrupted and the pirates fled the scene. Thanks to the quick reactions and efficiency of the Spanish crew, the attack was quickly foiled without injury or damage.

As the attack was carried out by a pirated merchant vessel with hostages onboard, the Infanta Christina had to defend herself and her escort with only minimal force in order not to endanger the lives of the hostages. After the attack, the warship and her escort continued toward Mogadishu, Somalia without further incident.

Meanwhile the yacht skipper was rescued yesterday by another EU NAVFOR warship, the FS Floreal after a most peculiar incident. It seems the yacht was boarded and seized by pirates but later ran aground. The pirates left the vessel taking two crew, a man and a woman, with them but the captain refused to leave his ship and was abandoned. The vessel had been reconnoitred by the ships helicopter and, when no response was received approached by a boarding crew from the Floreal who came under fire and had to back off. It was then that the yacht apparently ran aground and the pirates fled with their two captives.

Meanwhile the authorities in the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah have come up with a novel way of ensuring better security in and around the offshore anchorage and the port itself. They have simply placed an outright ban on any rubber boats (RIB’s) including those of their own navy. This is in response to the perceived threat of this type of vessel being used as fast attack craft.