News story

Royal Navy helps apprehend Somali pirates

A group of Somali pirates have been stopped dead in their tracks by a counter-piracy task force involving Royal Navy personnel.

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HMAS Melbourne closes in on a suspected pirate vessel [Picture: ABIS Jayson Tufrey, Commonwealth of Australia]
HMAS Melbourne closes in on a suspected pirate vessel

The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) counter-piracy Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 operation was co-ordinated from Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Fort Victoria with support from Australian ship HMAS Melbourne, South Korean destroyer ROKS Wang Geon, European Union flagship HNLMS Johan de Witt and a Seychelles-based maritime patrol aircraft from Luxembourg.

The task force had been searching for the pirates since they attacked and exchanged gunfire with the supertanker ‘Island Splendor’ on Friday, 11 October 2013.

HMAS Melbourne's Seahawk helicopter
HMAS Melbourne's Seahawk helicopter destroying a pirate vessel off the coast of Somalia [Picture: ABIS Jayson Tufrey, Commonwealth of Australia]

Three days later a Spanish fishing vessel was also attacked by what was suspected to be the same pirates.

The pirate skiffs were quickly traced and HMAS Melbourne’s Seahawk helicopter was used to guide the warship to their precise location, some 500 nautical miles from the Somali coast.

HMAS Melbourne’s armed and highly trained boarding team then made the final approach to board and search the skiffs.

HMAS Melbourne's boarding party intercepts a suspected pirate boat
HMAS Melbourne's boarding party intercepts a suspected pirate boat [Picture: ABIS Jayson Tufrey, Commonwealth of Australia]

They successfully apprehended 9 pirates and later destroyed 2 skiffs and associated piracy equipment.

Royal Navy Commodore Jeremy Blunden, Commander of CTF 151, said:

This is an excellent result. My multinational counter-piracy forces swiftly located and dealt with this Somali pirate group, sending a clear message that piracy no longer pays.

Nevertheless, the maritime community should continue to be vigilant of the threat and follow best maritime practice in order to reduce the likelihood of a successful pirate attack.

A pirate skiff is destroyed
A pirate skiff is destroyed [Picture: ABIS Jayson Tufrey, Commonwealth of Australia]

Royal Australian Navy Commander Brian Schlegel, Commanding Officer of HMAS Melbourne, said:

It is clear that there are still pirates out there determined to generate income from taking merchant ships hostage.

Mariners have been served a timely reminder of the perils of transiting the Somali coastline.

The CMF is a multinational naval partnership of 29 nations which promotes security, stability and prosperity across approximately 2.5 million square miles of international waters, encompassing some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.

Published 21 October 2013