Royal Navy returns pirated dhow to owner

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel embarked on Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessel Fort Victoria have successfully rescued a dhow from the clutches of 14 suspected Somali pirates and returned it to its rightful Yemeni owner.

The Yemeni fishing dhow, which was recovered from the suspected Somali pirates on Friday 13 January 2012, had been hijacked and held in a known pirate camp ashore. Awadh Barasheed, the owner of the dhow, said:

I am happy to receive my dhow back after being pirated since 18 May 2011. I would like to thank the coalition forces and specifically the British Navy for retrieving my dhow from the hands of the criminal pirates. This dhow is the only source of income for me, my brothers and our families.

Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel embarked on RFA Fort Victoria were able to hand back the dhow in international waters in the Gulf of Aden.

Captain Gerry Northwood, Royal Navy, Commander of the UK Counter-Piracy Task Group, said:

The dhow was handed to the captain of Yemeni Navy ship 1031 and the agent acting on behalf of the dhow’s owner. This was an excellent example of the Royal Navy and the Yemeni Navy working together for the common good of the local maritime community.

Captain Gerry Northwood presents a plaque to the captain of Yemeni Navy ship 1031
Captain Gerry Northwood presents a plaque to the captain of Yemeni Navy ship 1031 [Picture: LA(Phot) Kyle Heller, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

Mr Saleh Bayumain, Chairman of the Dhow Owners Association of Mukalla, passed a message back to the Yemeni Liaison Officer based at Combined Maritime Forces headquarters to express his own appreciation of the Royal Navy, saying:

We are happy to see a member of our association is getting back to business. On behalf of all dhow owners of Mukalla I would like to express my gratitude to the commander of the British naval ship and his dedicated and noble crew members.

My thanks also extend to all the maritime forces who patrol the area and fight piracy; they have helped us on many occasions and provided help in terms of food, water, fuel and mechanical support. Thanks also to our Navy and Coast Guard who followed up with this issue from the beginning and co-ordinated the delivery of the dhow to its owner.

Since 2008 the Royal Navy has been actively assisting the local maritime community in the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean through international counter-piracy efforts.

The NATO-led counter-piracy task force conducts routine visits to local ships, merchant vessels and fishing dhows going about their lawful business in international waters to confirm that they are safe and to reassure them that the international maritime forces are in the area as a force for good, to protect them from pirates.

Captain Northwood added:

I was pleased that we were able to return the dhow to its rightful owner. It is important that through our co-operation with the Yemeni Navy we reassure the local maritime community that we are able to protect their interests. They are as much the victims of Somali piracy as the larger international ships navigating through the area.

RFA Fort Victoria has been acting as part of a NATO task group in support of Operation OCEAN SHIELD. In the past ten days, five pirate groups have been successfully disrupted in the Gulf of Aden and over fifty pirates are potentially facing the prospect of prosecution.