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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Somali Pirates: EU NAVFOR and NATO Spring a Pirate Trap

HNLMS Rotterdam
From EU NAVFOR "Pirated Dhow Disrupted By Counter Piracy Forces"
After a three day hunt by NATO and EU counter piracy forces, HNLMS Rotterdam in close cooperation with EU unit FGS Sachsen, has successfully disrupted a pirated dhow.

This end game took place in the coastal waters of Somalia. The crew has been freed and is in good condition. The suspected pirates will be transported to Rotterdam and will be detained awaiting further decisions on the follow-on process.
More info at
Two Pirated Dhows Freed in the Last Three Days
FGS Sachsen
On 10 August, a suspicious dhow, reportedly pirated in Bosaso – Somalia, was located off the coast of Oman by the Spanish EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA). The French EU Naval Force frigate La Fayette was dispatched to intercept and investigate the dhow. Early on Saturday morning an unopposed boarding found the pirates had left the dhow, leaving the vessel and the crew in good condition. According to the crew, the suspected pirates fled the scene on a second pirated dhow.

ITS San Giusto
The German MPRA located the fleeing dhow. With this information, EU Naval Force frigate FGS Sachsen was able to intercept the second pirated dhow on Sunday evening, heading south towards the Somali coast. The Sachsen kept pressure on the suspected pirates and was joined by EU NAVFOR flagship ITS San Giusto and the NATO flagship HNLMS Rotterdam.

The presence and the deterrence of naval units, their helicopters and the sea craft deployed by Rotterdam, kept constant pressure on the suspected pirates preventing them to receive any aid from land or to escape to the shoreline.

After careful considerations by the Commanders of EU NAVFOR and NATO, HNLMS Rotterdam’s amphibious craft blocked the dhow’s path to the shorelines forcing it to stop. With EU NAVFOR ships and helicopter providing surveillance and close protection, a Dutch team was able to board the dhow, freeing its crew and apprehending 6 suspected pirates. They are now detained onboard HNLMS Rotterdam, awaiting further decisions on the follow-up process.
And yet more from Marine Log:
"To us it seemed highly unlikely that the pirates would want to return to Bossaaso," said Commodore Ben Bekkering, Commander of NATO's counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield. "The authorities there make no secret of their intentions to eradicate piracy. However, to the east of Bossaaso two hijacked ships are still held by the pirates, who seem to be present in the nearby villages as well. We expected the pirates to go there, possibly asking help from their colleagues. We therefore decided to station Rotterdam off the coast, deploying her landing craft in a number of locations, effectively blocking any retreat from or support of the dhow. As expected, the dhow entered the trap. It was then up to Rotterdam."

Rotterdam Boarding Teams Approach Pirated Dhow (NATO Photo)
"For the pirates it must have been a strange site," said Captain Huub Hulsker, Commanding Officer of HNLMS Rotterdam. "Not just Rotterdam and FGS Sachsen from the EU Naval Force Somalia (EUNAVFOR) following closely, but also a helicopter and few landing craft ahead making the coast almost impossible to approach.

"There was not really anywhere for them to go. Obviously, the main thought is always for the safety of my crew and that of the crew of the dhow. But the situation was clear and some strict orders and two warning shots later, the suspected pirates surrendered. The boarding team was on board and in control of the vessel within the next 20 minutes. A grateful dhow crew, an impressive first action of my whole team early in my deployment and six suspected pirates detained on board, awaiting further decisions - this is a result that counts."
NATO Press Release (pdf)
Nicely done!

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