EU naval force to keep pressure on pirates
The EU has named its counter piracy effort Operation Atalanta and has five ships covering the Southern Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and a large part of the Indian Ocean.
The EU Naval Force Flagship ITS Andrea Doria at Port Rashid in Dubai. — KT photo by Juidin Bernarrd
Maritime piracy off the coast of Africa has been contained by effective patrolling and best management practices by seafarers but can be rooted out only if Somalia takes direct control of its waters, naval officials in the thick of action said on Monday.
Speaking on board the Italian destroyer Andrea Doria anchored at Port Rashid, European Union Naval Force Somalia (EUNAVFOR) Commander Rear Admiral Guido Rando said there are plans to extend the mission for another two years to give time to Somali security forces on land and its fledgling Coast Guard, who are being trained by EUNAVFOR to combat crime along its coast, and bring stability at home.
“We cannot afford to be complacent and must continue to do what we do and share information with other naval forces like Nato and the Combined Maritime Forces for a coordinated response to piracy,” he said.
The EU has named its counter piracy effort Operation Atalanta and has five ships covering the Southern Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and a large part of the Indian Ocean, including the Seychelles. This is an area of about 2,000,000 square nautical miles (approximately 3,700,000 square kilometres).
Six suspected attacks on ships were reported this year; two attacks were confirmed and one disruption has been reported, said navy officials, who said they will not take their eyes off regional waters lest piracy rears its ugly head again.
“We want to know what’s normal near Somalia. We have been tracking life in the country and we know who fishes ... the when and what they are doing,’’ said Chief of Staff Captain Ulrich Brosowsky.
Best management practices for ships and seafarers who ply these waters were introduced some years back and have contributed to bringing down such incidents. Ships were asked to stay away from Somalia, but after a lull of two years, vessels are closing in on the Somali coast putting them at risk. “Merchant ships, sailing yachts and pleasure craft are often seen in the troubled region and this is a cause for concern,” said Captain Brosowsky.
The UAE Counter Piracy Week, which is on in Dubai, will see working groups in discussions and a plenary session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) on Tuesday.
Alessandro Mariani, who represents the Deputy Secretary General of the EU’s European External Action Service, Maciej Popowski, who is also chairman of the CGPCS, said the conferences are very important events in the continued international fight against piracy. “The attendance of the flagship (Andrea Doria) demonstrates the EU’s continued commitment to combating piracy in the region.”
He said the group would continue to push for a solution to political and economic issues facing Somalia despite the global fight against terror taking centre-stage. Naval ships and personnel deployed against Somali pirates will depend on the needs of the situation, Mariani said. “Nations have made their commitments for a further two years and there won’t be a let up in operations on a global scale.”
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