Safer year for Sea Freight anticipated as more pirates are captured in the Indian Ocean

02/01/2013

The fight against pirates achieved another victory before the old year passed and the waters in and around parts of the Indian Ocean are far safer than they were a year or so ago.

Only 12 days after the EU Naval Force warship BNS Louise Marie seized five suspect pirates at sea off the Somali Coast, the Belgium frigate also intercepted a suspect skiff 400 miles from the Somali coast after the vessel had been spotted by a Swedish EU Navfor maritime patrol aircraft. The vessel was intercepted early on the 27th December and upon arrival at the scene the warships boarding team was deployed to apprehend the three suspect pirates.

However, as with the five men caught earlier in the month, no criminal charges were brought against the suspects.

An EU Navfor statement said,

After the men were taken on board BNS?Louise Marie, analysis of the event was undertaken and evidence collected. Having looked at the evidence available, the decision was taken to put the men ashore on to a Somali beach.

This outcome comes as a big disappointment to many in the shipping community. Rear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi, the Deputy Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force summed up the situation saying,

EU Naval Forces continued vigilance over this period has paid dividends. BNS?Louise Maries?crew was able to quickly locate these men, and with reasonable grounds to suspect piracy, quite rightly took away their equipment that they may have used to prey on ships at sea. The EU always seeks, where possible, a legal finish, however, this time, whilst there were reasonable grounds to suspect piracy, it was felt that there was insufficient evidence to secure a prosecution. The European Unions intent is clear – to be tough on piracy, whilst helping Somalis to regain peaceful control of their own country.

The statement has now become the standard rhetoric of EU Navfor as it almost exactly mirrors the comments made two weeks earlier by Lieutenant Commander Jacqueline Sherriff when the last five pirates were released.

At the time, the difficult position the organisation was placed in was explained by the overall Operation Commander, Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, who said,

Once again EU Naval Force has prevented suspect pirates from preying on ships at sea. We quite rightly took away their means of carrying out attacks, such as their boat and ladder and they have been returned to the Somali Coast empty-handed and out of pocket. That said, these five men are extremely lucky individuals. The European Union rightly places a high value on life, and despite their perceived criminal intent, we were able to locate them and give much-needed food and water ? rather than watch them die of starvation and dehydration.

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