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Breaking:Pirate Buster Absalon Rescues Cargo Ship

February 5, 2010
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Danish navy L16 Absalon command and support ship--Author hebster on Wikimedia Commons

A rare success story, it is hard to get too excited considering the extraordinary rules of engagement the powerful Western Navies are subject to in the Gulf. Still, we give the Danes their due. Story from the Sofia News Agency:

Special forces of the Danish Navy warship “Absalon” have stormed a ship captured by Somali pirates and released the 25-man crew unharmed. Following a distress call from the captured cargo vessel “Ariella” on Friday morning, an international sea and air response resulting in the boarding of the cargo ship by the Danish naval forces, according to EU NAVFOR spokesperson, Commander Harbour.

Somali pirates had reportedly captured the “Ariella” some hours before the distress call was sent. The elite forces had scaled the ship’s side, and freed the crew, who had locked themselves in a secure room. In the meantime, sailors from the nearby Russian Navy ship Neustrashimyy boarded and detained pirates aboard a second skiff, said NATO spokesman Wolfgang Schmidt.

Then there’s this:

This was the first occasion on which a warship that is part of the European Union Naval Force patrol in the Indian Ocean has directly intervened in a hijacking. “There’s been many instances where there’s been excellent cooperation and three, four or even five nations have helped deter a pirate attack,” Harbour said, adding: “This is the first where a warship has been able to send forces to stop a hijacking while it was in progress.”

On this occasion, forces were able to intervene because the ship had registered with naval authorities, was traveling along a recommended transit corridor and was part of a group transit, ensuring the ships had a helicopter within 30 minutes’ reaction time, Harbour said.

D.E Reddick provides this summary of the Operation, as far as we know:

1) Either Absalon’s helicopter alone or both Absalon and the helo both fired on a pirate skiff as they approached MV Ariella;
2) That skiff which was fired on then escaped;
3) The ten man boarding crew from Absalon have found no pirates hiding aboard Ariella after several hours of searching the ship, as reported by Absalon’s captain;
4) The crew of Ariella is now back in control of their ship;
5) The Russian frigate Neustrashimyy captured a skiff with seven apparent pirates (armed, still?) nearby.

What is notable in this action is the combined efforts of:
a) The Indian frigate INS Tabar in spreading word of the hijacking attempt;
b) The French Maritime Patrol Aircraft which found that pirates were aboard the Arielle;
c) The ability of the Arielle crew to safely hide and notify Absalon that they were still safe from the pirates;
d) The knowledge of the crew’s safety which led to the decision by Absalon to mount a boarding action and free Arielle from the pirates;
e) The willingness of the Danish Navy to shoot at evident, visible pirates;
f) The forceful boarding action by the ten-man VBSS crew from Absalon;
g) The taking of a pirate skiff by RS Neustrashimyy subsequent to Absalon’s intervention on approach to Ariella;

All in all, very good team work on the part of the International Anti-Piracy Fleet. If allowed, we’ve little doubt the navies could make short work of the pirates, as sea action would involve less of the repercussions often associated with land wars lately.

Here is the NATO statement.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. leesea permalink
    February 8, 2010 12:39 pm

    AND this flexible ship can support amphib ops and has sealift capacity. So WHY is the USN NOT considering something like this ship instead of billion dollar exquisite warships?
    Of course that’s a rethorical question, but I would certainly like to hear a USN answer?

  2. Graham Strouse permalink
    February 7, 2010 10:25 pm

    I’ve already said it but the best way to make piracy unprofitable is to arm a percentage of the merchant fleet with concealed weapons. You don’t have to get really fancy or huge caliber. YOu just have to have readily delployable weapons stations that can blow the hell out of lightly armed pirates at close & medium range. And you need to keep the stations hidden so that pirates don’t know what they’re aiming at. Deter & defeat.

  3. Jed permalink
    February 7, 2010 10:51 am

    We can’t “eliminate them” entirely, we are not Nazi’s – if a pirate drops his AK and surrenders we can’t murder him in cold blood. However we can make sure he has a miserable life in a prison thousands of miles from his homeland AND deport him back there as soon as his sentence is done.

    Having said that, I am all for a liberal ROE and happy to open fire on ‘vessels engaged in piracy.”

    I also agree that a ‘safe room’ (I believe when its in a rich persons house in Manhattan its called a “Panic Room”) is a good idea, but how long will it be before they start trying to blast their way into them ??

  4. February 7, 2010 12:02 am

    Pirates are smart. In the short term, the new tactics may cause the priates some problems. The pirates will eventually adapt and figure out a way to either threaten the ship or get at the crew.

    The unresolved question is what do you do with the pirates you corner? Do you turn your VBSS folks loose on these vermin and exterminate them? Or, do you take them prisoner and turn them over to some third world country that does a “catch and release” on these folks?

    The only way to stop attacks by these cornered pirates is to eliminate them permanently. Likewise, the boats and mother craft that support the pirates should be sunk. These craft cannot be recycled like the pirates who manned them by pirate-friendly governments. In the Horn of Africa, such governments are more likely aiding the pirates for a cut of the action.

  5. Graham Strouse permalink
    February 6, 2010 6:20 pm

    Ships such as Absalon & Japan’s DDH Hyuga seem like the perfect anti-pirate command ships: Hyuga seems particularly desirable due to her helo capacity (13 bird, I believe). Both have sophisticated sensor & communication links. The US has a surfeit of amphibs which would also serve well in this role.

    @Mike: There IS something to be said about ye olde broadside… ;)

    Seriously, the old Q-ship concept, used defensively, could prove quite effective against modern piracy. Hidden medium caliber guns & concealed remote weapons stations don’t take up a huge amount of space & given the relatively spare weaponry used by most modern pirates, could prove quite a deterrent if used effectively. You don’t need to arm all the merchant ships, just a decently large fraction–enough to make the risk/reward ratio unacceptable for the pirates. Think of it as a naval sting operation, if you will.

  6. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 6, 2010 2:08 pm

    Jim, this does seem to be the most effective procedure so far, though I can’t help but miss the good ole braodside to deter the modern bucaneers!

  7. Jim Gray permalink
    February 6, 2010 1:31 pm

    The Biggest things that made this incident a success was the MV crew shutting down the engines and getting in a safe room.!!!!!!!!!
    Pirates TECHNICALLY could do nothing….. THIS MAY WELL BE A NEW PROCEEDURE FOR FIGHTING PIRACY.
    Pirate attack:
    Radio help
    shut down engines
    turn on Emergency GPS postioning devices.
    Secure all crew in a established safe room with radio and supplies.

    The ship can be cleared of Pirates by VBSS teams without fear of killing crews in a crossfire.

    This could work…
    The caviate to this is desprate pirates threaten to sink the ship.

    Currently they don’t carry have the technical expertise or explosives to sink a ship before rescue could arrive.

    Time will tell if this is a exception rather than a rule.

  8. D. E. Reddick permalink
    February 6, 2010 11:55 am

    Earlier in the week HDMS Absalon foiled the plans of another bunch of Somali Pirates.

    The Copenhagen Post: Absalon shuts down pirate sea headquarters
    Tuesday, 02 February 2010 11:09 KR News

    Absalon’s combat support ship has already had an encounter with Somali pirates
    Danish navy vessel shadows hijacked Indian ship to prevent pirates using it as launching pad for further attacks

    http://www.cphpost.dk/news/international/89-international/48114-absalon-shuts-down-pirate-sea-headquarters.html

    United States European Command: NATO warship assists Indian Cargo ship after pirate attack

    Release Date: Feb 02, 2010

    GULF OF ADEN — Danish warship HDMS Absalon, who is part of NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield, rendered assistance to an Indian flagged cargo ship (known as a dhow), Feb. 2. The dhow “Faize Osamani” and her crew of 12 had been taken by Somali pirates with the intention of using her as a mother-ship to mount further attacks against maritime shipping.

    http://www.eucom.mil/english/FullStory.asp?art={BB850C9C-9927-4AD1-8BC5-7AF1FD5984CF}

  9. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 5, 2010 6:15 pm

    Very good news, but a drop in the bucket. We need more ships and less political contraints.

  10. Scott B. permalink
    February 5, 2010 4:21 pm

    Right People, Right Tool, Right Cost : that’s the way to go, the only way to go !

  11. D. E. Reddick permalink
    February 5, 2010 4:06 pm

    HDMS Absalon is the queen of pirate-busters. During her first deployment to the Horn of Africa in 2008 / 2009 her crew captured 88 pirates. During that period she was a part of the USN-led CTF-150 & CTF-151. Presently she is the command ship of NATO’s Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) as part of the organization’s counter-piracy mission code-named Operation Ocean Shield. Absalon and her crew have proven themselves to be capable foes of Somali pirates.

Trackbacks

  1. Pirate Buster Absalon Strikes Again! « New Wars
  2. Sea Links « New Wars
  3. Breaking:Pirate Buster Absalon Rescues Cargo Ship « New Wars

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