After three days of persistent pressure, FGS Luebeck has forced Somali pirates to release an Indian dhow with 15 Indian mariners held as hostages.
On the 17 January 2012 the EU NAVFOR warship FGS Luebeck re-located an Indian registered dhow which had been used as pirate mother-ship involved in the attack on M/V Flintstone early the same day. A Dutch Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) stationed on the Dutch-registered civilian fall-pipe vessel had repelled the attack following a gun-fight and caused the attack skiffs to retreat back to the pirate mother ship with injuries to the suspected pirates.
Having positively identified the dhow and sighted the attack skiffs and other pirate paraphernalia on deck of the dhow, FGS Luebeck approached the dhow demanding that they comply via radio messages.
The vessel did not react to radio calls or to subsequent warning gunshots. Sustained pressure was applied to the dhow through the presence of FGS Luebeck including direct shots fired into the bow of the dhow and use of the ship’s helicopter to neutralise the attack skiffs secured on the upper deck.
Throughout the action the safety of the hostages was the primary consideration, especially as the suspect pirates threatened to kill all crew members and to fire on anyone attempting to board the dhow.
During the night of 19 January 2012, FGS LUEBECK established control of the situation to allow the M/V ENRICO IEVOLI, an Italian tanker which had been pirated in December 2011, and has 18 hostages onboard to rendezvous with the Indian dhow. On arrival the pirates again threatened that they would harm all the hostages if any military action was taken to prevent a transfer of pirates who had been injured during the initial attack on the M/V Flintstone.
The FGS Luebeck maintained an overt presence and following the transfer, was able to board the Indian dhow to assure the health and safety of the crew as well as providing technical assistance. The 15 released crewmembers were all in good health. This action has denied the suspect pirates the use of the dhow as a mother-ship and freed the crew from what could have become months of captivity. The injured suspected pirates were seen to have transferred to the M/V Enrico Ievoli which is being shadowed as it returns towards Somalia.