Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Security Forces Blow Up Pirate Ship after Bulk Carrier Hijack Attack

Thwarted Attempt Leads to Reprisals off Somalia
Shipping News Feature
SOMALIA – On October 28, EU NAVFOR military personnel seized an active Pirate Action Group (PAG) whaler and destroyed it. This followed a sustained period of surveillance after a piracy attack was conducted against the Hong Kong-flagged Bulk Carrier KSL Sydney. EU NAVFOR says that it is committed to disrupting such pirate groups wherever and whenever the opportunity arises and Sunday morning was one such occasion.

The attack against the KSL Sydney took place on October 16th, 340 NM off the coast of Somalia. Due to the application of Best Management Practices (BMP) protection measures by the Master, his crew and the private security team, the piracy attack was thwarted and the crew and vessel remained safe. The Master had already evacuated the crew to the citadel when the embarked Armed Security Team (PAST) responded to the attack. There was a sustained exchange of fire before the skiff with several armed people on board broke off and changed course away from the vessel.

Rear Admiral Alfonso Perez de Nanclares, the EU NAVFOR Force Commander, ordered counter-piracy forces to the area for further investigation. EU NAVFOR Spanish Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) flew over the area to gain as much detailed information on suspected pirate activity as they could. The ability to deploy aircraft and ships immediately to this area proved vital in identifying this latest PAG. The information the MPRA provided made it apparent that PAG whalers were active in the area, which would be used to launch further attacks on maritime shipping transiting the area.

The suspicious whaler identified by the MPRA was later tracked down by the crew of ESPS Castilla to a small bay just off the Somali coast. The Force Commander then ordered it to be seized and towed out to sea where it was safely destroyed. Admiral Nanclares said:

“Using the resources of Op Atalanta we were able to identify, track and destroy the equipment of a Pirate Action Group making it harder for them to attack maritime shipping in the future. We will continue to deter and prevent acts of piracy with every chance we get in order to ensure vulnerable shipping and their crews remain safe while they transit the Western Indian Ocean.”

After the heyday of pirate attacks a couple of years ago the extended presence of cooperating naval forces reduced the tally of successful attempts to virtually zero in the region. Of late there have been signs of increased activity and hopefully punitive action such as this incident will prove to be an effective deterrent.