EU Naval Force Flagship FS Siroco Reaches Half Way Point In Deployment With Operation AtalantaFebruary 11, 2014 - 09:50
The men and women on board French Navy warship FS Siroco should be rightly proud of their achievements as they reach the half way point in their deployment with the European Union’s counter piracy operation off the coast of Somalia.
FS Siroco took over from Dutch warship, HNLS Johan De Witt, as the EU Naval Force flagship on 6 December 2013.
Since then, the French warship has sailed over 9,500 nautical miles and conducted counter-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin and along the coasts of Somalia. And it was during one if these patrols last month that the ship captured five men at sea who were suspected of pirating a dhow. After freeing the innocent crew from the dhow, FS Siroco transferred the five men to the Seychelles for prosecution.
The embarked helicopter crew has flown over 70 hours and provided over 52,000 square nautical miles (178 000 Square kilometers) air surveillance across the piracy high risk area.
An important element of Operation Atalanta is engagement with local seafarers in order to better understand their concerns and to provide them with up-to-date information about the piracy threat. As a result, the ship’s boarding team has completed 5 friendly approaches. Also, in order for the warship to be able to remain on patrol for weeks at a time, the ship has carried out replenishments at sea (RAS) with fuel tankers.
The amphibious capabilities of FS Siroco were highlighted recently during a meeting in Berbera harbour between delegates from the European Union’s civilian mission, EUCAP Nestor and a Somaliland governmental delegation. The ship was able to transport all the visitors on board using the ship’s landing craft.
The close cooperation between Operation Atalanta and EUCAP Nestor was also highlighted by the sea transportation of two armored vehicles from Djibouti to Mombasa for EU CAP Nestor.
French naval and air assets have contributed to Operation Atalanta since the European Union launched counter piracy patrols in December 2008.
Thankfully, due to the determined efforts of the international military forces and self-protection measures of the shipping industry, the past 18 months have seen a significant reduction in pirate activity.
Speaking about his crew, the commanding officer of FS Siroco, Captain Jean-Marc Le Quilliec stated, “I am very proud of what Siroco has achieved so far. All my crew understand that there are sacrifices we must make; being far away from home and working long hours. But these efforts have already been rewarded with the recent interception of the five suspected pirates. There is no doubt about our effectiveness and the major role we play under the European Union flag in the fight against piracy”.
FS Siroco will return to her homeport of Toulon, South of France, in the middle of April 2014.
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