SOMALI basin (COMBINED MARITIME FORCES) – The Royal Navy has struck at the heart of Somali piracy operating in the Somali basin. RFA Fort Victoria was patrolling in an area approximately 420 nautical miles from the Seychelles and 350 nautical miles from the Somali coast as part of NATO’s combined task force 508.
Early that morning, she received information that a Spanish fishing vessel operating to the north of their position had come under attack from a group of pirate vessels to the North of their position. The ship’s Lynx helicopter was quickly despatched to investigate.
Once at the scene, the helicopter identified two suspect vessels, a whaler and a skiff, in the vicinity of the fishing vessel. The faster of the two, a skiff, sped away at over 25 knots as the helicopter gave chase. When the skiff ignored orders to stop, a specially trained sniper onboard the Lynx helicopter fired warning shots ahead of the fleeing vessel which stopped and the suspected pirates onboard were then transferred to Fort Victoria via boat
Having disrupted several pirate vessels and with both evidence and suspected pirates on board, permission was sought to take them to the Seychelles for prosecution. With Seychelles authority granted, this will be the first case to be heard there under a memorandum of understanding signed between the UK and Seychelles’ governments in July 2009.
Captain Gerry Northwood, Royal Navy, embarked in Fort Victoria said:
“It has been a long but rewarding operation with many complex aspects. Operating under NATO tasking and in consultation with our headquarters in the Middle East and in the UK, we utilised a range of national and international assets to bring these events to a satisfactory conclusion. The Royal Navy has once again demonstrated that multinational coordination can be successfully deployed to disrupt piracy in this area in order to protect international merchant shipping.”
About Combined Maritime Forces
CMF is a unique multi-national naval coalition, dedicated to promoting security and prosperity across 2.5 million square miles of international waters in the Middle East. CMF’s main focus areas are defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, reducing illegal activities, and promoting a safe maritime environment.