On 26 September, the Seychelles Peoples Defense Force, Coast Guard and Air Force, together with the EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia Operation Atalanta and EUCAP Nestor, carried out a search and rescue exercise in Seychelles waters.
The operation was coordinated centrally by the Seychelles Coast Guard Maritime Operation Center and held in conjunction with the port visit of the Dutch EU NAVFOR flagship, HNLMS Johan de Witt, to the Seychelles. The EUCAP Nestor team in the Seychelles worked closely with the Coast Guard on the exercise and facilitated the liaison with EU NAVFOR.
The exercise consisted of an operation to locate a fishing boat in the waters north of Mahe and the rescue of a severely wounded fisherman on board.
Following an exercise distress call from the fishing boat, the Seychelles Coast Guard patrol ship Andromache and the Seychelles Air Force closed the area to locate the vessel. Once the fishing boat had been found, HNLMS Johan de Witt, sent a Cougar helicopter to rescue the fisherman from the fishing boat and take him to the Seychelles Coast Guard base. There, an SPDF ambulance was waiting to bring him to the hospital to be treated.
The exercise was an opportunity to enhance coordination and communication among the different branches of the Seychelles defense forces and with international partners.
“This exercise is testament to the Seychelles Peoples Defense Force excellent cooperation with the EU missions: EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta and EUCAP Nestor,” said the Chief of Defense of the SPDF, Brigadier Payet. “It also shows how the different branches of the SPDF can work together in a seamless way to serve the people of the Seychelles.”
“It was a very useful and well-coordinated exercise. The Seychelles Coast Guard, Seychelles Air Force and other SPDF units showed great professionalism,” said the commanding officer of HNLMS Johan de Witt, Captain Frank Foreman. “From the initial stages of the planning to the operation itself, our Seychellois partners showed a high degree of know-how and expertise.”
This exercise was part of a series of exercises that EUCAP Nestor has facilitated between the Seychelles and visiting EUNaval Force vessels. The exercises also helped to improve the SCG officers in carrying out core Coast Guard functions such as search and rescue and interdiction of suspected pirates.
“EUCAP Nestor’s role in the Seychelles is to assist our partners in enhancing their capacity to ensure maritime security,” said the Head of Mission for EUCAP Nestor, Ambassador Etienne de Poncins. “These exercises provide an opportunity for Seychelles Coast Guard and Air Force officers to train particular scenarios. This experience is indispensable for live situations.”
EUCAP Nestor is a civilian mission, under the so called Common Security and Defense Policy, mandated to assist countries of the Horn of Africa and Western Indian Ocean develop their capacities and capabilities to ensure maritime security, in particular counter-piracy and maritime governance.
The EU Naval Force Somalia Operation Atalanta deters, prevents and represses acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia. EU Naval Force ships protect World Food Program vessels delivering aid to Somalia and AMISOM shipping. EU Naval Force ships also contribute to the monitoring of fishing activity off the Somali Coast.