Monday, March 8, 2010

Shipping Lane Patrols Make Major Hit On Somali Pirates

French Vessel Nabs 35 Alleged offenders - But What Happens Next?
Shipping News Feature

SOMALI COAST – Operation Atalanta, the attempt by an EU joint force to restrict and eliminate pirate attacks has scored a major victory this week. The operation has two primary purposes, firstly to ensure the safe passage of vessels destined to bring aid on behalf of the World Food Programme (WFP) safely to those who need it in the African state and secondly to try and ensure no attacks take place on ordinary freight and container ships and particularly the many oil tankers whilst they transit the Gulf of Aden.

After some successful escort details previously, the ESPS Navarra, completed accompanying the Indian Dhow Faize Sultane Kwhaha from Oman across to the port of Bosaaso in northern Somalia just last week, the dhow laden with WFP goods. Now a French frigate the Nivose reports she has seized 35 alleged pirates in just three days with an aggressive system of detection and pursuit operations. Staring on Friday four such operations were launched and by this morning and, in company with other EU Navfor vessels and an aircraft also on secondment and believed to be from the Armada Española Air Arm (Spanish Naval Air Service), plus supporting helicopters, the French vessel has reportedly arrested four of the pirate mother ships and a number of the fast attack skiffs used to detain shipping.

With over four hundred pirate attacks last year the situation has been growing steadily worse and many vessels are choosing alternative routes to avoid the risks now inherent in the area. This has meant the pirates widening their field of operations with increasing problems of detection for the forces of law but means that instead of being landed back in their native Somalia, often with consequent release through lack of evidence, miscreants can now be taken legitimately to neighbouring states for prosecution where the chances for conviction are much higher.

In the latest operation the fact that the EU forces were forced to fire upon their targets, with no reported injuries, makes the actions of the fleeing Somalis’, travelling in small boats far from their native coast whilst heavily armed, obviously appear rather self incriminatory.

We look forward in anticipation to find where the latest bunch of detainees will be landed and what, if anything, happens to them subsequently.

Photo :- The NIvose moored in Australia courtesy of Nachoman-au