EU NAVFOR Flagship FS DE GRASSE disrupts Pirate Action GroupSeptember 18, 2010 - 20:02
On 17 September, while executing a patrol along the Somali coastline, the crew of EU NAVFOR ship FS DE GRASSE located and disrupted a Pirate Action Group comprising of six boats. She thus prevented them from reaching the shipping lanes on the high seas to conduct attacks on merchant vessels.
On 16 September, the helicopter from the EU NAVFOR ship FS DE GRASSE was conducting a routine patrol when it spotted suspicious boats on a beach, loaded with pirate paraphernalia (ladders, fuel tanks…), indicating the imminent departure to sea of a Pirate Action Group.
The following morning, the same helicopter from FS DE GRASSE relocated this same group at sea. This time, the Pirate Action Group comprised of several skiffs and a whaler; a boat of larger size and often used as a refuelling asset without which the skiffs cannot sail far enough to conduct attacks.
A first skiff of this group was quickly disrupted by the boarding team of FS DE GRASSE and was sent back to shore, having removed all the pirate paraphernalia. The French destroyer then steamed at high speed towards a second position provided by her helicopter to intercept the whaler. Once the whaler had been placed under surveillance, the boarding team of FS DE GRASSE chased and successfully disrupted the two remaining skiffs that were still in range.
In total, twelve suspected pirates and four boats (three skiffs and one whaler) were intercepted; two further skiffs fled the scene. As none of the pirates were caught in the act of piracy, it was not possible to proceed with a prosecution under international law. However, all of the equipment which could have been used for an attack was seized and one whaler and one skiff were destroyed.
Despite having to release the pirates, this action by the EU NAVFOR ship FS DE GRASSE has disrupted a pirate group’s action and successfully prevented them from reaching high seas to commit acts of piracy against vulnerable merchant vessels.
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). EU NAVFOR furthermore protects vulnerable vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, deters and disrupts piracy. Finally, EU NAVFOR monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.
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