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The Dutch fleet neutralizes a pirate skiff

The Dutch ship Hr. Ms. De Ruyter which is participating in NATO's anti-piracy mission (Ocean Shield) intervened on Friday in the Arabian Sea, on a mother ship, we learned from an official source on Saturday.

On the deck of the mother ship, you can see the skiff. View taken from the De Ruyter's helicopter (credit: Dutch Navy)

Late in the afternoon, the onboard helicopter discovered a suspicious mother ship, the “Japan 555” about 40 km from the warship. A not entirely accidental discovery. For several days, the Japan 555 aka Malaysia 618 or Tai Yuan 227 (a Taiwanese ship captured in May 2010 by pirates), has been scouring the Arabian Sea and the surrounding areas to capture merchant ships.

Shot at goal

The suspect vessel did not respond to radio calls nor did it stop when warning shots were fired from the ship's cannon. But, it was explained in The Hague, it was not possible to seize the mother ship, not wanting to endanger the lives of the hostages who were probably on board. A surgical intervention was therefore decided. A Marine special forces sniper was put in charge. Using a shot from the helicopter, he neutralized the engine of the skiff on the deck. This removes any room for further action from pirates.

(updated) According to Somali sources cited by the NGO Ecoterra, A Somali pirate was reportedly seriously injured by a bullet in the abdomen during the attack, 2 others are missing and 4 more lightly injured. The ship returned to the temporary home port of the pirates (originally from Garacad) at Dhanane.

NB: the Hr. Ms. De Ruyter, with 220 sailors and a special forces team on board, is currently the flagship of the operation Ocean Shield of NATO. The Netherlands became involved in anti-piracy operations very early on, first on a national basis then by providing means alternately to the forces of the European Union and NATO.

At least 5 pirated ships regularly serve as mother ships

According to the new tactic in force for several weeks now, pirates are using certain captured vessels as mother ships. The ship crews then serve as a human shield against a possible operation. At least five ships are participating in this action in the Arabian Sea: the FV Tai Yuan 227 (A.k.a Japan 555), the FV Jih Chun Tsai 68 and one of Prantalay. Le Fv Golden Wave (aka Geummi 305) as well as the MV Blida seem to prefer the waters of the Somali basin.

But this tactic can also fail. As shown by the two offensive operations carried out on Friday by the Malaysian and South Korean navies. They did not take gloves like the Dutch. And quickly attacked. If they acted alone, these forces undoubtedly benefited from intelligence support. They benefit from “Mercury”, the secure chat” set up by the European anti-piracy force. And certainly from American assistance.

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).