Task Force Brings Somali Pirate Tankship Attackers to Book

Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Pirate skiff destroyed: Photo credit ABIS Jayson Tufrey, Commonwealth of Australia

The Combined Maritime Forces operation was co-ordinated from the British 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. 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. There the warship's armed and highly trained boarding team made the final approach to board and search the skiffs, apprehended 9 pirates, and soon afterwards destroyed the two boats.

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."

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."

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