Latest piracy news (February 5, 2012) (updated)

Russian, European and NATO navies on exercise

The Dutch HNLMS Zuiderkruis refuels the German ship Bayern (credit: Eunavfor / archives)

The ships participating in the European (Eunavfor), NATO (Ocean Shield) and Russian operations carried out a replenishment at sea (RAS) exercise in the Indian Ocean at the end of January. Two successive refuelings were carried out with observers on board. First, the flagship of the EU, thee SPS Patino refueled the NATO flagship Turkish TGN Giresun, while Russian observers were on board both ships. A little later, in the afternoon, the exercise was repeated by the Russian flagship Admiral Tributes with his tanker Pechenga while European and NATO observers were on board the Russian vessel. The exercise of “Replenishment at Sea” (RAS) is a very delicate exercise which requires precision on both sides, the two ships must evolve at only 40-50 meters from each other, to allow the fuel to move from the supply vessel to the supplied vessel. The discussions naturally revolved around the refueling maneuvers but also on the respective experiences in the fight against piracy and the protection of merchant ships as well as the World Food Program (WFP).

Suspicious approach north of the Seychelles

Hackers are keeping a low profile these days. An aborted approach, however, took place on January 28, 620 miles northeast of Mogadishu but actually closer to the Seychelles archipelago. The skiff with 5 armed men on board approached up to almost 400 meters from the merchant vessel. Armed guards on board fired warning shots. The pirates then turned back.

Aconite to the Indian Ocean

The French frigate Aconit left at the end of January for a new anti-piracy mission in the Indian Ocean. She made a stop in Sude (Greece) at the NATO training center. Objective: to train the inspection team, made up of marines and specialized personnel, responsible for contacting suspected pirates.

Offensive methods, the return

On the sidelines of the meeting of NATO Defense Ministers on February 2, the French and the Spanish once again declared themselves in favor of more offensive methods against pirates. It is a question of allowing measures against the pirate bases on the beaches and giving more freedom of action to the European troops to fire on the pirate skiffs which are on the point of attacking. The aim is to "prevent" rather than "react" to the attack, explains Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Romenes, according to EFE, the Spanish news agency.

Iranian Navy in Saudi Arabia

The destroyer Shahid Naqdi and the supply ship Khark arrived Friday (3 February) in Jeddah, the port of Saudi Arabia. Which, in itself, is not common. These two ships participate in the anti-piracy mission. But they also have the mission of making a show of force and countering Iranophobia, said Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, according to Iranian television PressTv.

A Greek frigate again in the European operation Eunavfor

After several months of absence, a Greek frigate, the HS Hydra, is once again operating in the European anti-piracy force. The frigate HS Hydra (F-454) joined Eunavfor off the Horn of Africa on Saturday (February 4) after passing through the Red Sea.

Two hostages from MT Enrico levoli ashore

The captain and another sailor from MT Enrico levoli were dropped ashore on Thursday in a move aimed at splitting up the crew, Somalia Report reports on February 5. This can be seen as an attempt to put pressure on the shipowner during the negotiations, or even as a guarantee against a possible attempt at release by force.

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).