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Iranian-flagged fishing boat AL-MERAJ 1 off the coast of Somalia. Photo courtesy EUNAVFOR

Iranian-flagged fishing boat AL-MERAJ 1 off the coast of Somalia. Photo courtesy EUNAVFOR

EUNAVFOR Reveals Details of Alleged Piracy Incident Off Somalia

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 3075
December 1, 2023

EU Naval Force Operation (EUNAVFOR) ATALANTA intervened in an alleged piracy-related incident involving the Iranian-flagged fishing boat AL-MERAJ 1 off the coast of Somalia.

The incident took place on November 22 when the Commander of the Somali Coast Guard alerted the EUNAVFOR Joint Operations Centre about the abduction of an Iranian-flagged fishing dhow near Eyl (Puntland, Somalia).

Operation ATALANTA closely monitored the dhow for more than 230 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, providing information to maritime traffic to prevent any potential threat from the alleged pirates. The operation also involved the deployment of an unarmed drone.

After losing its two towed skiffs due to adverse weather conditions, the AL-MERAJ 1 changed its course and headed towards the Puntland coast. It eventually reached Somali territorial waters, and its last known position was shared with the Somali police forces.

The incident highlights the significance of the EU’s ongoing presence in the region for safeguarding navigation freedom and upholding international laws in collaboration with relevant stakeholders. EU NAVFOR Operation ATALANTA is a counter-piracy operation that has been operating off the Horn of Africa and Western Indian Ocean since 2008. At the height of piracy in January 2011, 736 hostages and 32 ships were being held by pirates. However, the last piracy incident in the region occurred in 2019, according to EUNAVFOR.

Despite a dramatic reduction in the number of piracy incidents over the past decade, Operation ATALANTA’s mandate has been extended to December 2024.

EU NAVFOR recommends that merchant and vulnerable vessels register in the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa’s Voluntary Registration Scheme for enhanced monitoring and response to maritime security threats.

Currently, Operation ATALANTA has deployed the flagship Italian DURAND DE LA PENNE, equipped with the NH90 helicopter, the Spanish warship VICTORIA with the AB212 helicopter, the Special Operations Forces Team, and a drone. The Maritime Patrol and Recognition Aircraft VIGMA D4 also contribute to the operation in the Area of Operations.

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