|Nisvose VBS team investigating suspected pirates (ENNAVFOR photo)
On 5th March, an EU NAVFOR aircraft and the EU NAVFOR French warship FS NIVOSE disrupted a suspected pirate whaler off the Somali coast. The whaler was suspected of leading a Pirate Action Group (PAG) at the time of the incident.I wonder why they just didn't make sure the pirates had some paddles and confiscate their engine while they were at it.
On the morning of 4th March, a merchant vessel reported being chased by one skiff about 350 Nautical Miles south of Mogadishu. In response, the EU NAVFOR warship FS NIVOSE was immediately ordered to locate and disrupt the suspected PAG responsible for the incident. In addition, the EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) which is supplied by Luxembourg and based in The Seychelles was also dispatched to join the hunt. The aircraft located the suspected PAG, consisting of a whaler-type open boat, soon after and guided the FS NIVOSE to intercept. There were no attack skiffs found in the vicinity of the whaler.
Upon finding the whaler, the FS NIVOSE launched its helicopter which was forced to fire warning shots ahead of the vessel to force the suspected pirates to stop. The crew of the whaler had already been filmed by the MPRA throwing equipment overboard. The French warship launched its boarding team to intercept the whaler and 3 suspected pirates were found on board. Apart from a large number of fuel barrels, no pirate related equipment was discovered.
As there was insufficient evidence to pursue a prosecution, the three suspected pirates were returned to the whaler. Most of the fuel was confiscated but they were left with enough fuel, food and water to reach the Somali coast.
Some might be confused with the mention of Luxembourg providing MPA - they are apparently using modified, leased CAE Aviation Swearingen Merlin III aircraft based in the Seychelles. These aircraft appear to be equipped with the WESCAM™ MX-20 Sensor SystemUPDATE: More information on the Merlin III from Bruxelle2, a French language blog devoted to EU foreign policy and European defense. The planes and crews of these patrol are "leased" by the Duchy of Luxembourg (no small expense for a tiny county) to conduct anti-piracy patrols out of the Seychelles.