Pirate Attack: How Did EU Naval Force Thwart Somali Pirate Attack On Indian Cargo Vessel?

By Philip Ross on June 7, 2013 4:41 PM EDT

pirate attack
The German Frigate “Hamburg,” right, patrols after destroying two fishing boats which were discovered floating keel side up in open waters off the coast of Somalia. Since November 2010, the German Frigate 'Hamburg' has been part of the European Union Naval Force, which protects vulnerable vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, deters and disrupts piracy. The captain of Frigate 'Hamburg' decided to scupper the boats to stop them falling into the hands of pirates. (Photo: Reuters)

A pirate attack off the coast of Somalia was thwarted by the European Union Navy Force, who rescued the 14 people onboard the ship. AP reports that both Swedish and Dutch warships responded to a distress call put out by the ship's crew about the pirate attack.

In this latest attempted Somali pirate attack, the pirates took control of a cargo vessel with 14 Indian sailors onboard. The sailors were able to alert officials Wednesday that their ship was under attack by 12 armed pirates, prompting a rescue mission.

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"Forces of Operation Atalanta deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast," it states on the EU Navy Force's website. Operation Atalanta, which began in Dec. 2008, is part of a larger global action to prevent and combat pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia.

What did the EU do to prevent the Somali pirate attack? Apparently, just show up. AP reports that when the pirates spotted the EU Navy's counter piracy ships approaching, they steered the commandeered vessel toward the coast and then simply fled.

In April, CNN reported that piracy in the Indian Ocean has plummeted to a five-year low. International navy forces are getting pretty good at spotting and foiling pirate attacks, even in the 2.5 million square mile area of ocean where the pirate attack on the Indian cargo vessel occurred. Also, according to CNN, pirates are getting increasingly less successful at high jacking commercial vessels.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, or IMB, the reason for the sharp decline in pirate attacks lies in the navy's ability to deter piracy off Africa's east coast. Pre-emptive strikes and strict action against pirate so-called "mother ships" have worked to curb the number of attacks. From CNN:

In particular, enhanced cooperation among international navies has been a key factor behind the steep drop in piracy. For example, regular naval patrols led by the "big three" missions - NATO's Operation Ocean Shield, the EU's Operation Atlanta, and Combined Task Force 151 - have been supplemented since last year by an increase in unilateral deployments by China, India, Japan, Russia, and South Korea.

IMB notes that there have been 106 reported incidents of piracy worldwide in 2013, including four hijackings. Seven of these, including one hijacking, occurred off the Somali coast; Nigeria reported 18 incidents and one hijacking.

The IMB also reports that the number of people taken hostage fell last year to 585 from 802 in 2011. In Somalia, just 75 ships reported attacks in 2012, down from then 237 that reported assault in 2011.

Of all the 585 people taken hostage in pirate attacks in 2012, six were killed and 32 injured.

According to the Examiner, pirate attacks off the easternmost tip of Africa, which juts out into the Arabian Sea, have occurred since at least 2005. The pirates collect ransoms of up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for hostages' safe return. In one incident in 2012, $9.5 million in ransom was paid to pirates for a Greek tanker and her crew of 26 people.

Read more from iScience Times:

Jessica Buchanan Somalia: What Happened To Somalia Pirate Hostage?

Pirates, Beware: Navy's Smart Robocopters Will Spy You in the Crowd

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