Breakthroughs along with challenges during first month of Swedish commandMay 17, 2010 - 16:10
“We have made progress in the new EU NAVFOR tactics, stopping suspected pirates closer to shore, before they get out in the high seas and do outrages” said Rear Admiral (LH) Jan Thörnqvist, summing up his first month as Force Commander of EU NAVFOR.
The new command of Task Force 465, operating in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and Southern Read Sea, has now made its first month of duty. At a ceremony in Djibouti the 14 of April the Italian Rear Admiral Giovanni Gumiero handed over the EU NAVFOR-fleet outside Somalia to the Swedish Rear Admiral Jan Thörnqvist.
EU NAVFOR main task, to protect the World Food Programme (WFP) vessels, bringing humanitarian aid to people in need inside Somalia, is still solved without disturbances. None of the WFP vessels have been attacked since Operation Atalanta started. During the first month of Swedish command, EU NAVFOR completed 6 escorts for WFP and 7 escorts for AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia).
“We have also welcomed a new contribution to our force. A 12-man Vessel protection detachment (VPD) from Malta is now operating together with EU NAVFOR warship Johan de Witt from the Netherlands,” Force Commander Jan Thörnqvist says.
During this first month admiral Thörnqvist and his Force Headquarters have met a few challenges but also seen some breakthroughs. The new more offensive EU NAVFOR tactics have proven successful. Only this last month 10 pirate action groups (PAGs) have been disrupted and 8 whalers (pirate mother ship) have been disabled by EU NAVFOR. Together with the other task forces in the area, that we coordinate our efforts with, we count 22 disruptions.
A great challenge is that the pirates now operate far more out in the Indian Ocean, sometimes even closer to India than to Somalia. One example is the hijacking of three fishing vessels on 18th April, 1200 nautical miles east of the coast of Somalia. Compared with the same period one year ago the figures shows two things; the total number of pirate attacks have increased with 150 percent but the actual hijacks went down with 25 percent.
“The pirates are sending out more people in the high seas. Their plan is apparently to do a high number of attacks in multiple areas but we have successfully countered their actions by our disruptions,” admiral Thörnqvist concludes.
EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation ATALANTA’s main tasks are to escort merchant vessels carrying humanitarian aid of the World Food Programme (WFP) and vessels of African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM and to protect vulnerable vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean and to deter and disrupt piracy. EU NAVFOR also monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.
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