In a spectacular show of “I’m going to seriously ruin your world if you don’t comply,” the British Royal Marines embarked on HMS Somerset and RFA Fort Victoria take down two pirate-held ships with zero resultant casualties this week.
The following is the press release from the Royal Navy.
A Royal Marines Commando guards suspected pirates off the Somali coast after the Royal Navy liberated its second hijacked vessel in a week.
It’s thought they were using the fishing boat Hibid Fidi as a ‘mother ship’ – until HMS Somerset pounced, boarded the dhow, freed its Pakistani crew and detained the men holding them against their will.
The action comes just days after RFA Fort Victoria, which is leading a NATO counter-piracy mission in the region, freed 23 sailors from the Italian bulk carrier MV Montecristo after a 500-mile dash across the Indian Ocean.
It took an overwhelming show force from Royal Marines, raiding craft and a Lynx to force the hijackers to give in.
A similar show of force was evident in the case of Hibid Fidi some 100 miles off Somalia – one Merlin from 829 Naval Air Squadron in Culdrose, Somerset’s sea boats packed with elite green berets and specially-trained Royal Navy boarding teams, and the frigate’s upper deck guns manned.
The Devonport-based frigate has recently arrived in the region, taking over from her sister HMS Monmouth.
Somerset spent the month-long passage from the UK to her operational area honing her boarding and counter-piracy skills both in the Mediterranean and east of Suez. Practice made perfect in the textbook take-down.
The frigate was on patrol under the banner of the Combined Maritime Forces – the Bahrain-based international coalition of 25 nations determined to sweep criminal activity from the waters of the southern Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Somali Basin, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
She was alerted to the actions of the 100-tonne fishing dhow Hibid Fidi, which was not acting the way a fishing vessel would normally behave in these waters.
HMS Somerset’s Merlin was scrambled to shadow the dhow before the frigate’s Commanding Officer, Cdr Paul Bristowe, sent in his commando boarding team.
Once the dhow was under their control, it became evident that the Pakistani crew were being held against their will by the Somalis – whose weapons were then seized and destroyed.
The suspected pirates were subsequently handed over to Coalition forces.
Cdr Bristowe said:
“This was a good day for the UK and Combined Maritime Forces – and another victory for all nations who rely on these waters for trade or fishing stock.
“We have not only set free these fishermen, but denied criminal elements the use of an ideal command platform.
“Our extensive training set us up for success. Somerset’s team reacted calmly and professionally in this swift and effective boarding.”
Meanwhile, the owners of the Montecristo have conveyed their thanks to Fort Victoria for saving their ship from the pirate scourge last week.
The president of the Livorno-based Dalmare line, Nello D’Alesio, has written to Capt Shaun Jones RFA, the supply ship’s Commanding Officer, and offered the RFA-Royal Marines-Fleet Air Arm-Royal Navy team aboard “our utter and most felt gratitude”.
Signore D’Alesio continues:
“We want you to know that the D’Alesio Group does not take for granted what has been done to save our ship – but most of all our men.
“We would really appreciate if you would consider extending our gratitude to your entire crew and whoever else was involved in this delicate and successful operation.”