February 5, 2010
Danish special forces storm pirated bulk carrier
Danish special forces today stormed the 32,444 dwt Antigua and Barbuda flagged bulk carrier Ariella, owned by Genshipping Corporation of Slovenia, after the master reported that it had been boarded by armed pirates. The Ariella was 100 miles off the Somali coast within the 12-mile-wide Internationally Recognized Transit Corridor.
The Danish Navy says that around 8:00 AM Danish time the Danish warship Absalon, which is part of the NATO antipiracy force in the Gulf of Aden, received a call that the Ariella, which was sailing some 35 miles away, was under attack by pirates.
Absalon sent its helicopter to Ariella. The helicopter observed a skiff with seven suspected pirates on board.
Absalon fired warning shots from the ship and the helicopter to stop the attack.
When the Absalon was about a mile out, a Danish special forces team was dispatched in an inflatable to free the Ariella.
The Times of London reports Lieutenant-Commander Jacqui Sherriff, spokesperson at Nato's maritime headquarters, as saying the boarding was possible "because the crew were locked in a safe room and the pirates could not get access to them and we knew they were not going to get caught in crossfire."
The crew had time to secure themselves in the safe room with a VHF radio transmitter because the ship was ringed with barbed wire.
No shots were fired and by the time the special forces were aboard the pirates had gone.
A Russian naval ship, the Neustrashimyy, captured a second skiff carrying seven more pirates who were part of the attack on the Ariella but had not boarded it.
After the Absalon boarding team had searched the Ariella and made sure no pirates were aboard, they returned command of the ship to the master and it resumed its voyage.