Belgian EU Naval Force frigate BNS Louise-Marie boarding team closing distance to a skiff (picture: archive)
Less than two weeks after the frigate BNS Louise Marie apprehended five suspect pirates at sea off the Somali coast, the crew of the Belgian warship was tasked to intercept a suspicious skiff which had been spotted by a Swedish maritime patrol aircraft.
The warship, which is operating as part of the European Union’s counter-piracy mission – Operation Atalanta, has maintained a constant sea watch during the past weeks in the waters off the Horn of Africa to help protect vessels from pirate attack.
The skiff with three persons on board was located early morning on Thursday 27 December 400 miles off the Somali Coast by a Swedish EU NAVFOR maritime patrol aircraft. Upon arrival at the scene, BNS Louise Marie’s boarding team was deployed and the suspected pirates were apprehended.
Upon concluding the analysis of the event and evidence collection, the three suspected pirates were subsequently dropped off on a Somali beach.
Speaking about this latest counter-piracy operation, Rear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi, the Deputy Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force said,
“EU Naval Force’s continued vigilance over this period has paid dividends. BNS Louise Marie’s crew was able to quickly locate these men, and with reasonable grounds to suspect piracy, quite rightly took away their equipment that they may have used to prey on ships at sea. The EU always seeks, where possible, a legal finish, however, this time, whilst there were reasonable grounds to suspect piracy, it was felt that there was insufficient evidence to secure a prosecution. The European Union’s intent is clear – to be tough on piracy, whilst helping Somalis to regain peaceful control of their own country.”
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