OCTOBER 21, 2013 — An Australian warship has apprehended a group of Somali pirates suspected in an October 11 attack on the VLCC Island Splendor (see earlier story) and has destroyed its skiffs. The pirates fled after the VLCC's armed security guards returned fire, but are suspected in an attack three days later on a Spanish fishing vessel.
Pirates surrender as boarding team approaches
Since then the multinational Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 and other naval forces have been searching for them
CTF 151 staff embarked on RFA Fort Victoria coordinated the maritime interdiction supported by HMAS Melbourne and ROKS Wang Geon from CTF 151, European Union flagship HMLMS Johan de Witt, and a Seychelles based maritime patrol aircraft from Luxembourg.
The pirate skiffs were successfully traced and HMAS Melbourne's Seahawk helicopter was used to guide the warship (an Adelaide-class guided missile frigate) to their precise location, some 500 nautical miles from the Somali coast.
HMAS Melbourne approaches the pirate suspects
HMAS Melbourne's armed and highly trained boarding team made the final approach to board and search the skiffs. The team successfully apprehended nine pirates and later destroyed two skiffs and associated pirate equipment.
Commodore Jeremy Blunden, Royal Navy, Commander of CTF 151, said: "This is an excellent result. My multinational Counter Piracy forces swiftly located and dealt with this Somali pirate group, sending a clear message that piracy no longer pays."
He added: "Nevertheless, the maritime community should continue to be vigilant of the threat and follow Best Maritime Practice in order to reduce the likelihood of a successful pirate attack."
Helicopter fire destroys skiff
Commander Brian Schlegel, Royal Australian Navy, Commanding Officer of HMAS Melbourne, said: "It is clear that there are still pirates out there determined to generate income from taking merchant ships hostage. Mariners have been served a timely reminder of the perils of transiting the Somali coastline."