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Latest piracy news (April 7, 2013). Vigilance required. Review of 4 months at sea by the Spanish commander

(BRUSSELS2) Vigilance was indeed required, while the weather seemed calm on the pirate attacks, the maritime anti-piracy forces reported two attacks, one of which was foiled. And the succession of zone commanders of the European force Eunavfor was an opportunity, once again, to remind us that nothing was over in terms of reducing the threat.

Two pirate attacks

One occurred on March 28 on a fishing vessel in the Gulf of Aden, at 11° north, 51° east. The attack was foiled. The other attack occurred on April 2 on a merchant ship, 13 miles south of Baraawe, on the equator line at 44° East. A skiff with seven or eight people on board headed towards the merchant ship with apparently hostile aims, as shots were being fired towards the ship. The security team on board has “ replied with warning shots ». The skiff then gave up pursuit.

 The Eunavfor force deployed in the Indian Ocean comes under Portuguese command

Commodore Jorge Palma of the Portuguese Navy took command on Saturday (6 April) of the European Union anti-piracy force deployed in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, during a small handover ceremony. European flag held in the port of Djibouti. As B2 already announced several years ago, the Portuguese officer is taking over from his Spanish counterpart, Rear Admiral Pedro Garcia De Paredes. This is Portugal's first participation in the European operation. Read also: A new commander for Eunavfor

Assessment of 4 months at sea: 4 pirate groups stopped, 2 others dissuaded from acting

This relief was an opportunity for Rear Admiral Pedro Garcia De Paredes to take stock of these four months of command. There " good news is that the joint efforts of anti-piracy forces such as improved coordination have prevented pirate attacks. The EU naval force thus stopped 4 of the 6 pirate action groups raging at sea. The other two returned to shore without success. Of the 29 suspects arrested by the European units, 21 were able to be transferred to justice, “ after a complex and difficult work of research and collection of evidence, in the most complete way ". The " bad news is that the threat remains. The pirates are “always ready to catch new prey to demand a large ransom for the ship's hostages and feed their criminal activity. They are still holding hostage 60 innocent sailors in deplorable conditions ". They can continue to move with complete freedom and impunity in many places in Somalia, maintaining sanctuaries from where they can prepare and launch their assaults ". Conclusion for the Spanish officer, as a viaticum for his successor: “ we must be sure that any sign of complacency or weakness in our commitment is banished at all levels ". Before wishing him the traditional “Good luck”.

German succession in Djibouti

Another shift had taken place a few days earlier. The frigate FGS Karlsruhe (F-212) handed over to its sister ship, the FGS Augsburg (F-213), on Wednesday (3 April), after 5 months of deployment within the European anti-piracy naval force. EU NAVFOR. Karlsruhe joined Operation Atalanta on November 18, 2012. This is the 14th rotation of German teams. Since the start of the operation in 2008, Berlin has always engaged at least one ship, often two, in this operation. “ When we joined EUNAVFOR, pirate attacks had fortunately reduced thanks to the combination of international presence and the use of Best Maritime Practices (BMP)”, explained the commander of Karlsruhe, the Checkout Volker Herbert Blasche. " That said, the situation in Somalia remains fragile and I believe it is important to continue to ensure a military presence at sea; this is a clear message to pirates and their investors alike. It's like putting out a fire, you can't leave the area if the fire is out but still has embers. What we are doing is continuing to maintain pressure on pirate groups who still intend to go out to sea to attack ships. »

Egyptian authorities release ship checked for presence of weapons

Le Comr, a Togolese-flagged vessel with 14 crew members was released on Saturday (April 6) by Egyptian authorities after three days of detention. These had intervened, according to Reuters, north of Ras Muhammad in the Sinai Peninsula, the authorities finding heavy weapons and ammunition on board. Equipment intended for a private security company ensuring the protection of ships against pirates, according to the official version. The ship and its crew were held for three days during checks, then escorted to the coast of Safaga.

Read also: The good vein of the “false pirate”

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

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).