A group of Somali pirates have been stopped dead in their tracks by a counter piracy task force following recent attacks of two vessels in the Indian Ocean.
The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Counter Piracy task force, Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, embarked on Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Fort Victoria coordinated the operation. They were supported by HMAS Melbourne and ROKS Wang Geon, European Union flagship HMLMS 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, October 11. 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 made the final approach to board and search the skiffs. They successfully apprehended nine pirates and later destroyed two skiffs and their 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.”
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.