Mar 312010

image On the afternoon of 29th March, the EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Aircraft, MPA, from the Seychelles supported the Seychelles Coast Guard vessel Topaz to locate and apprehend a hijacked ship.

Robust action from the Topaz ensured the release of 27 hostages: 9 pirates have been captured. Early this morning, 29th March, the EU NAVFOR Force Commander, Rear Adm Giovanni Gumiero, tasked the Seychelles Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) to support the Seychelles Coast Guard vessel Topaz in an anti piracy operation against three hijacked ships.

It had been reported that a Pirate Action Group (PAG) hijacked a Motor Vessel ARZOO with 14 Indian nationals onboard. EU NAVFOR had been monitoring its movements and noticed that 2 days ago the vessel was abandoned by the pirates near to the Seychelles when the vessel ran out of fuel.  The crew were released unharmed. They hijacked another ship (fishing vessel) called GALATE and set course for the northern Somali basin. The Swedish MPA monitored the movements of this vessel and reported to the EU NAVFOR Force HQ. At this time the Seychelles Coast Guard vessel Topaz was vectored onto the position. The EU NAVFOR Luxemburg MPA then arrived and provided cover and positional information to the Topaz.

At about midday, it appears that the F/V GALATE  was too small for the pirates who abandoned this vessel and took control of another ship called the MV AL ABI. They took the crew of the GALATE with them.  There were by now 6 Seychelles hostages from the GALATE, 21 (15 Iranian, 6 Pakistani) from the AL ABI and 9 pirates. The Topaz then made is presence known to the pirates and demanded it to stop. Warning shots were fired so the pirates placed the hostages on the upper deck and appeared to be threatening them. Topaz decided to use disabling gunfire against the AL ABI and the vessel was hit below the water line and it began to sink. All personnel jumped overboard and were rescued unharmed by the Topaz.

EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation ATALANTA’s main tasks are to escort merchant vessels carrying humanitarian aid of the ‘World Food Program’ (WFP) and vessels of AMISOM, and to protect vulnerable ships in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean and to deter and disrupt piracy. EU NAVFOR also monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.

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