Apr 24, 2019 - 14:52
Early on 23 April, EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta successfully responded to a piracy incident that transpired over the course of the four previous days.

The incident began on 19 April, when five suspected pirates captured a Yemeni dhow off the coast of Somalia. The pirates proceeded to navigate the along the coast, where they visited a pirate basecamp and reinforced their crew with additional members.

Two days later on 21 April, the pirates attacked the Korean fishing vessel Adria with the dhow acting as a mothership in the Indian Ocean some 280 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia. FV Adria started to conduct evasive manoeuvres and increased its speed. The Spanish Fishing Vessel Txori Argi was operating in the vicinity and proceeded to assist the FV Adria as she continued to be chased by the skiffs. After approximately one hour, both vessels were approached by the skiffs and fired upon with what was believed to be a rocket propelled grenade. The Private Armed Security Teams (PAST) on board the FV Adria and the FV Txori Argi responded, and the skiffs retreated. That same day, another Fishing Vessel, FV Shin Shuen Far 889, also reported having been approached by two skiffs, which both retreated when the PAST on board revealed their weapons.

On 21 April, EU NAVFOR dispatched its Maritime Patrol Aircrafts (MPRAs) and conducted a search in the area, resulting in identifying the mothership.  On 23 April, in collaboration with its MPRAs, EU NAVFOR’s flagship ESPS NAVARRA successfully intercepted and boarded the captured dhow vessel. EU NAVFOR apprehended five suspected pirates, and the 23 hostages aboard the hijacked FV Al Azham were released unharmed.

With the support of the PAST and EU NAVFOR’s various active assets in the region—including the frigate ESPS NAVARRA and MPRAs German JESTER and Spanish CISNE —Operation Atalanta was able to control the situation and prevent any further imminent attacks.

This incident is the first notable piracy event since October of last year. The Force Headquarters (FHQ) piloted the operation under the command of the Operation Headquarters (OHQ) in Rota, just three weeks after the operation hand over from Northwood, United Kingdom.

“This incident clearly demonstrates that piracy and armed robbery at sea, off the coast of Somalia, has not been eradicated,” said Operation Commander Rear Admiral Antonio Martorell. “The need for a strong maritime security presence in the High-Risk Area remains critical for the deterrence and prevention of future incidents and attacks.”

EU NAVFOR urges the Maritime Industry to remain vigilant across the High-Risk Area and to comply with recommended Best Management Practises, as supported by the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa located in Brest.