Breaking:Pirate Buster Absalon Rescues Cargo Ship
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.