EU NAVFOR Confirms Two Piracy Incidents in Two Days Off Somalia

Mike Schuler
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November 7, 2013

Upon returning to shore, suspected pirates were greeted by as many as 80 people, some of whom helped drag the pirates’ boat onto shore. Image credit: EU NAVFOR

The European Union’s counter-piracy operation, Naval Force Somali – Operation Atalanta (EU NAVFOR), reported Thursday morning of two piracy incidents over two days off the coast of Somalia this week, bringing the total number of piracy incidents reported in the region since Sunday to three.

The suspected pirates observed ditching ladders into the sea. Image credit: EU NAVFOR
The suspected pirates observed ditching ladders into the sea. Image credit: EU NAVFOR

EU NAVFOR says that first incident took place on Tuesday, November 5, when the EU Naval Force German frigate, FGS Niedersachsen, prevented 10 suspected pirates from heading out to sea. The report says that during one of her counter piracy patrols, FGS Niedersachsen located 2 small vessels – a whaler towing a skiff – close to the Somali coast. Upon further inspection, the warship’s crew observed that in addition to the ten men, the whaler was also carrying over 10 barrels of fuel and 2 long ladders, equipment that has been traditionally used by pirates to launch attacks on ships.

As the German frigate approached, the men in the whaler ditched the ladders overboard before heading back to shore where they were greeted by approximately 80 people, some of whom helped the suspected pirates drag their boats back on to the beach.

The second incident reported by EU NAVFOR came Wednesday morning, November 6, when a Hong Kong flagged chemical tanker, enroute from Saudi Arabia to Mozambique, was attacked by pirates about 460 miles south east of Mogadishu in the Indian Ocean. EU NAVFOR says that during the attack, the tanker was fired upon by 5 men using automatic weapons in a fast-moving skiff. Fortunately, a private armed security team onboard the tanker was able to repel the attack by returning fire. EU NAVFOR reports that no injuries have been reported.

The Wednesday attack was confirmed by the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre, which said that the tanker used fire hoses and evasive maneuvers to further repel the attack.

The two incidents reported Thursday by EU NAVFOR follow another incident earlier this week in the Gulf of Aden.

As gCaptain reported Wednesday, the Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaydachni came to the aid of the civilian vessel Manjin Cild which came under attack by pirates Sunday, November 3. The Hetman Sahaydachni, currently on a tour with NATO’s Ocean Shield counter-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa, was able to easily repel the attack and chase off the pirates without injury.

This week’s slew of piracy-related incidents come just a few weeks after the Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force, Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant, issued another warning about the on-going piracy threat off the Somali coast.

Speaking about the incidents reported by EU NAVFOR, Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant said “It is clear that Somali pirates still have the intent and capability to get out to sea to attack ships and take crews for ransom. These attacks not only cause misery to ships’ crews and their families, they also generate instability in world trade and humanitarian aid routes. Naval counter piracy forces and the maritime shipping industry must remain vigilant so that these pirates do not succeed.”

The number of pirate attacks off the coast of Somali has steadily decreased over the last two years since peaking in 2011, with just 5 vessel attacked this year, according to data from EU NAVFOR.

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