January 5, 2009
French Navy captures 19 pirates
The French frigate Jean de Vienne is holding 19 Somali pirates in detention on board after foiling two separate hijacking attempts yesterday.
The frigate was on patrol in the Gulf of Aden southwest of the Yemeni port of Al Mukalllah, when it received a distress call from the Croatian cargo vessel Donat.
The Jean de Vienne sent its helicopter in response and the two pirate skiffs involved broke off their attack. They were tracked by the helicopter, which directed the frigate to them.
The skiffs were intercepted by French Navy commandos who found the skiffs were carrying six assault rifles, a rocket launcher and two rockets, a scaling ladder and more than 1,000 liters of gasoline. Ten pirates were captured.
Meantime, the Jean de Vienne received a further distress call. It came from the Panamanian cargo ship Vulturnus which was under attack by pirates. The Jean de Vienne again sent its helicopter in response and the pirates discontinued the attack. They were tracked by a Spanish maritime patrol aircraft that guided the Jean de Vienne to intercept their boat. It carried nine Somalis armed with five assault rifles and a rocket launcher.
The nineteen pirates detained on the French frigate will be handed over to Somali authorities.