Somali Pirates Release 15 Indian Hostages Ending Dramatic Three Day Scene

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January 20, 2012

A rather dramatic scene unfolded over the past three days in the Indian Ocean involving a EUNAVFOR warship, a group of pirates, 15 hostages, and an attack on a Dutch-registered vessel.

The incident began on January 17 when a group of pirates holding 15 Indian hostages aboard a hijacked dhow launched skiffs that attacked the M/V Flintstone, a Dutch “fall pipe” vessel.  During the attack, a gun fight erupted between the pirate attackers and the vessel’s armed security detail, formally known on Dutch vessels as a Vessel Protection Detachment.  The fire fight resulted in several pirates being injured and forced them to retreat back to the dhow.

Meanwhile, the EUNAVFOR warship FGS LUEBECK responded to the scene and quickly located the dhow mothership, demanding that the pirates comply with their orders being sent via radio. The pirates, however, ignored the calls.

So in good fashion, the FGS LUEBECK deployed a helicopter to deliver warning shots fired toward the dhow and even direct shots into the vessel’s bow and attack skiffs secured on the upper deck.  Still the pirates resisted, threatening to harm the 15 Indian crew members being held as hostages and warning that they would fire on anyone attempting to board the dhow.

Two days later on the night of January 19th,  with the FGS LUEBECK still shadowing, the M/V ENRICO LEVOLI, a hijacked Italian tanker which we had reported yesterday was being used to conduct mothership operations in the area, rendezvoused with the Indian dhow.

Upon arrival, the pirates again threatened that they would harm the hostages, including 18 hostages aboard the M/V ENRICO LEVOLI, if any military action was taken to prevent the transfer of pirates who had been injured during the initial attack on the M/V FLINTSTONE.

The FGS LUEBECK complied, maintaining pressure as pirates were transferred to the tanker.

Once completed, forces aboard the FGS LUEBECK were able to board the dhow and release the 15 Indian hostages aboard.  Meanwhile the M/V ENRICO LEVOLI returned, with injured pirates, back to Somalia.

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