Seychelles Hostage Rescue

Monday, March 29, 2010
Photo courtesy EU NAVFOR

The afternoon, March 29, the EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) from the Seychelles supported the Seychelles Coast Guard vessel Topaz to locate and apprehend a hijacked ship.

Robust action from the Topaz ensured the release of 27 hostages: nine pirates have been captured. Early the morning of March 29, the EU NAVFOR Force Commander, Adm Giovanni Gumiero, tasked the Seychelles Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) to support the Seychelles Coast Guard vessel Topaz in an anti piracy operation against three hijacked ships.

It had been reported that a Pirate Action Group (PAG) hijacked a Motor Vessel Arzoo with 14 Indian nationals onboard. EU NAVFOR had been monitoring its movements and noticed that two days ago the vessel was abandoned by the pirates near to the Seychelles when the vessel ran out of fuel.  The crew was released unharmed. They hijacked another ship (fishing vessel) called Galate and set course for the northern Somali basin. The Swedish MPA monitored the movements of this vessel and reported to the EU NAVFOR Force HQ. At this time the Seychelles Coast Guard vessel Topaz was vectored onto the position. The EU NAVFOR Luxemburg MPA then arrived and provided cover and positional information to the Topaz.

At about midday, it appears that the F/V Galate  was too small for the pirates who abandoned this vessel and took control of another ship called the M/V As Abi. They took the crew of the Galate with them.  There were by now six Seychelles hostages from the Galate, 21 (15 Iranian, six Pakistani) from the Al Abi and nine pirates. The Topaz then made is presence known to the pirates and demanded it to stop. Warning shots were fired so the pirates placed the hostages on the upper deck and appeared to be threatening them. Topaz decided to use disabling gunfire against the AL ABI and the vessel was hit below the water line and it began to sink. All personnel jumped overboard and were rescued unharmed by the Topaz.

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