The Royal Danish Navy frigate Esbern Snare, which has been operating in the Gulf of Guinea region since October. Photo: Anders Fridberg/Danish Armed Forces

Danish Military Kills Four Pirates During Gun Battle in Gulf of Guinea

Mike Schuler
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November 27, 2021

Danish military forces on a anti-piracy mission killed four pirates in a gun battle in the Gulf of Guinea this week, Denmark’s Defence Command reported.

The military forces are embarked on board the Danish frigate Esbern Snare, which is currently on a six month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea to join the international fight against piracy. The frigate, equipped with a helicopter, departed Naval Base Frederikshavn in October with approximately 175 personnel comprising the permanent crew, military police, an expanded medical team, and a detachment of naval special forces.

According to the Defence Command’s update, on Wednesday the frigate’s crew was alerted to reports of an increased risk of piracy in waters south of Nigeria and sent the ship’s Seahawk helicopter to patrol the area. Once on scene, the helicopter crew located “a fast-moving motorboat” with eight suspected pirates in an area where a number of merchant ships were located.

Eventually, Esbern Snare was close enough to send a military team in a RHIB to board the suspected pirate vessel.

“Esbern Snare called the pirates to bring them to a halt so that the Danish soldiers could get on board. When the pirates did not react, the Danish forces fired warning shots, cf. their powers. The pirates then opened fire directly on the Danish soldiers. The Danish soldiers then reacted in self-defense and responded to the fire from the pirates,” the update said.

A brief firefight ensued and resulted in five pirates being hit, four of whom died. No Danish soldiers were injured.

All eight pirates, including the deceased, were taken on board the Esbern Snare where the injured was treated for his injuries.

“The inter-ministerial working group will deal with what should happen to the pirates,” the update said.

The Gulf of Guinea continues to be a global hotspot for piracy and armed robbery against ships and crew kidnappings.

The deployment of the Esbern Snare comes after Denmark committed to sending a frigate to the region back in March following a call by Danish shipping conglomerate A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S and shipping industry groups for a more concerted international response. On average, up to 40 Danish-operating ships are operating in the region on any given day transporting around $1.5 billion in good annually.

The deployment marks the Danish first anti-piracy mission since leaving the Horn of Africa, where it was operating from 2008 to 2017.

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