Talk about being in the right place, at the right time…
On Wednesday February 12, 2014, a German Navy sailor on ‘lookout’ for pirates on the bridge of the FGS Hessen sighted a person waving for help from the top of a capsized boat off the Somali coast.
The German warship, which is currently operating with the European Union Naval Force conducting counter-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia, quickly initiated the rescue operation.
After launching both of the frigate’s boats with medical personnel, swimmers and a Somali interpreter inside, the fisherman, who was only 14 years old, was quickly rescued. After being taken on board FGS Hessen for a medical check, the fisherman said that his boat had capsized two hours earlier. Tragically, the boy said that another fisherman was missing.
The commanding officer of Hessen immediately launched the ship’s Sea Lynx MK-88A helicopter, to help search for the missing fisherman. At the same time, FGS Hessen contacted the local authorities in the port of Bossasso to ask if they had sighted the missing fisherman. Unfortunately no sightings had been made, and after five more hours of searching, and with the weather deteriorating, the search and rescue operation was called off.
The commanding officer of FGS Hessen then hailed the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF), who confirmed that they would be able to return the rescued fisherman to the shore. After FGS Hessen’s sailors righted and pumped out the capsized fishing boat, the PMPF towed it back to land.
While the whereabouts of the second fisherman remains unknown, local authorities are checking with local seafarers to see if any of them have been able to rescue him.
After the end of the search and rescue operation FGS Hessen resumed her counter-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden.
The main tasks of the European Union Naval Force Somalia Operation Atalanta is to protect ships of the World Food Programme and to deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Somali coast.
All photos courtesy EU NAVFOR