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The behavior of a suspicious ship in the Indian Ocean alerts Rota. The Santa Maria on site

(B2) The change of course “ for no apparent reason » of the Greek tanker MT Aegian II triggered the alert at the HQ of the military maritime operation to fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden (EUNAVFOR Atalanta).

This chemical tanker flying the flag of Panama was in transit from Shajah in the United Arab Emirates and bound for Mogadishu (Somalia). But a sudden change of route raised the alarm. A quick investigation (overflight and radio contact) quickly eliminated the trail of a capture by the pirates. But the apparent technical problems persisted.

The Santa Maria in visual

On August 20, open sources reported that a ship may have been hijacked in the same area. The Spanish frigate 'ESPS Santa Maria' was then detached to " investigate and execute incident response procedures with the support of an aircraft from the multinational CMF coalition. THE Santa Maria approached the MT Aegean II and confirmed the initial assessment that the suspicious movements reported were due to damage in the hull caused by rough seas. NB: According to maritime expert Jay Bahadur quoted by Reuters, local police boarded as the ship drifted. The Somalis then reportedly robbed the crew and disarmed the private security team that was on board.

Incidents on board

Contacted by EUNAVFOR Force Commander, Rear-Admiral Villanueva, the Port Authority of Bossaso reported that the MT Aegean II had not been hijacked and that Garadfoo Police had been sent aboard to inspect the vessel as it drifted off Bereeda awaiting technical assistance. While the Santa Maria was gathering information, the captain admitted that there had been some incidents on board the vessel.

An ongoing investigation

For now, the event does not may be classified as a marine safety event, but further investigation is ongoing we say to the HQ of the European anti-piracy operation. The tanker weighed anchor and resumed the journey, closely watched by the ESPS Santa Maria.

(credit: Eunavfor Somalia)

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).