(Seychelles News Agency) – Six suspected Somali pirates have been transferred to Seychelles after they were caught attacking a container ship and a fishing vessel in the Southern Somali Basin, officials said.
The suspects were apprehended by an Italian navy frigate, ITS Virginio Fasan, after they attacked a Seychelles-flagged 52,000-tonne container ship and a fishing vessel last week. The incident took place over a 24-hour period from Friday, Nov. 18 to Saturday, Nov. 19.
Head of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia Secretariat in Seychelles, Raymond St Ange, who is also the Acting superintendent of prisons, said the pirates have been transferred to Seychelles based on an agreement with the European Naval Force Operation Atalanta (EU NAVFOR).
“The agreement allows us to initiate prosecution during any act of piracy. But prosecution will depend on evidence analysed by the office of the Attorney-General,” said St Ange.
The suspects arrived in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, on Thursday morning at the Port of Victoria.
St Ange said that a delegation from Somalia will also arrive in the country to discuss the issue of piracy.
There are 15 Somali detainees in the Seychelles’ main prison facility at Montagne Posee.
In an article in the online navaltoday website, the EU NAVFOR Somalia said, “the pirates launched a number of rocket-propelled grenades against the container ship during their attack.”
“All crew on both attacked ships are safe thanks to adherence to BMP4 (Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia), the presence of a security team on one of the vessels and good seamanship,” the article quoted the EU NAVFOR as saying.
The Seychelles’ archipelago — 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean — has been on the forefront of the fight against piracy since 2005, when the scourge began expanding, adversely impacting the nation’s tourism and fishing industries.
Despite the decline in pirate attacks off the vast coastline of Somalia from 236 in 2011 to two reportedly unsuccessful attacks in 2014, Seychelles has remained on the alert and St Ange had said last year that recent intelligence suggests that pirates threats still exist.
More recently, the Seychelles’ chair of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), Ambassador Barry Faure, said seafarers should bear in mind pirates will always be there as long as there is no stability on the grounds in Somalia.
Operation Atalanta’s Italian Force Commander Completes Successful Counter-Piracy Mission
On Wednesday 6th December 2017, EU NAVFOR’s Operation Commander, Major General Charlie Stickland congratulated Force Commander Rear Admiral Fabio Gregori on the completion of another Italian led mission.
Just over 4 months ago, Rear Admiral Gregori took Command of the Warships, Maritime Patrol Aircraft and security teams onboard on World Food Programme ships all the while embarked on EU NAVFOR’s Italian flagship, ITS Virginio Fasan.
In that time the Admiral has overseen Focussed Operations, Leadership Engagements with key Somali and regional dignitaries, the building of maritime security capacity across the region and situating EU NAVFOR assets off the coast of Mogadishu to assist in an Emergency medical response following the recent bombings.
This was the first time ITS Fasan had deployed with Operation Atalanta. During their counter-piracy patrols the crew took the opportunity to meet Somali fishermen and local dignitaries to explain EU NAVFOR’s mission to protect World Food Programme ships, deter acts of piracy and monitor fishing activity.
The crew also worked as part of the EU Comprehensive Approach with the EU Training Mission and EUCAP Somalia.
In November, ITS Fasan responded to an emergency call from a merchant ship, MV Ever Dynamic, after the vessel was attacked by a number of armed men in a fast-moving skiff.
The armed men were tracked over night and embarked Italian Marines boarded the skiff the following morning. The suspected pirates were then held under UNSCR 2383 and transferred to the Seychelles for continuation of the judicial process.
At today’s handover ceremony Rear Admiral Fabio Gregori expressed his appreciation and thanks to the men and women deployed with EU NAVFOR saying:
“Under this 26th rotation we have had much success thanks to hard work of the sailors and marines of EU NAVFOR” and he added: “I would personally like to thank the men and women of all the warships, aircraft and security teams of this Task Force who have generated the successes we have seen”. Following this the Operational Commander, Major General Charlie Stickland then thanked Rear Admiral Gregori for “the agility and flexibility of his team and being able to deliver a consistent, proactive and optimised operations during this rotation.”
EU NAVFOR’s mission to protect vulnerable shipping from the threat of piracy continues and since taking over command, the Admiral has personally overseen the delivery of just over 109,000 tonnes of food aid to the people of Somalia.
Somali pirates caught at sea, transferred to Seychelles
AFP — Six suspected Somali pirates have been transferred to the Seychelles following their arrest for attacks earlier this month off southern Somalia, a Seychelles prisons official said on Thursday.
The suspects arrived on Thursday morning at the port of Victoria, capital of the Indian Ocean archipelago nation, said Raymond St Ange, acting commissioner of Montagne Posee prison.
The six were arrested by the Italian navy, deployed as part of the European anti-piracy operation Atlanta, after being spotted by a military helicopter while attacking a container ship and a fishing vessel on November 17 and 18.
The men were transferred to the Seychelles under an agreement with the EU. “The agreement allows us to prosecute cases of piracy, but the prosecution will depend on the evidence presented to the attorney general,” St Ange said.
There have been several attempted hijackings in recent months, a worrying sign of a possible resurgence of Somali piracy which had declined from its 2011 peak as navy patrols were stepped up.
The years-long scourge disrupted international shipping and led to the kidnapping for ransom of many hundreds of seafarers.
While warships and armed guards have reduced the number of attacks, they have done nothing to address the root causes of piracy, which lie in Somalia’s decades of state failure, poverty and lack of economic opportunity.
The last similar transfer of suspects to the Seychelles was in 2014.
Eu Navfor’s Italian Ship Virginio Fasan Chases And Captures Suspected Pirates
EU NAVFOR Somalia’s Flagship, the Italian vessel ITS Virginio Fasan, has apprehended six suspected pirates and seized their vessels.
Six crew of a motor whaler, acting as mother ship, and a skiff have been detained following attacks on a 52,000 tonne container ship and a fishing vessel. These events reportedly took place over a 24 hour period on 17th and 18th November in the Southern Somali Basin, in an area known for piracy incidents.
During the incidents a number of rocket propelled grenades were fired against the container ship. However, adherence to BMP4, the presence of a security team on one of the vessels, and good seamanship avoided any damage or injuries, and all crew and vessels are now safe.
The suspected pirates were apprehended by the Italian Marines from ITS Virginio Fasan after their vessels were located using Fasan’s SH-90 helicopter, following initial searches by the Spanish Maritime Patrol Aircraft Cisne. This search for the suspected pirates was coordinated with partners and from information provided by the masters of the vessels concerned. Positive visual verification was made which allowed this to take place.
A legal process has now begun for the suspected pirates to be transferred to the appropriate authority for prosecution. EU NAVFOR was able respond rapidly and successfully to these incidents due to the combined efforts of all involved, maximising synchronisation with all EU NAVFOR partners and forward deployed capabilities.
A reminder is made to all seafarers that adherence to BMP4 and registration with MSCHOA will help to overcome further illegal acts at sea. The presence of international counter-piracy forces in the area will continue to act as a deterrent to further incidents.