On 5th March, an EU NAVFOR aircraft and the EU NAVFOR French warship FS NIVOSE disrupted a suspected pirate whaler off the Somali coast. The whaler was suspected of leading a Pirate Action Group (PAG) at the time of the incident.
On the morning of 4th March, a merchant vessel reported being chased by one skiff about 350 Nautical Miles south of Mogadishu. In response, the EU NAVFOR warship FS NIVOSE was immediately ordered to locate and disrupt the suspected PAG responsible for the incident. In addition, the EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) which is supplied by Luxembourg and based in The Seychelles was also dispatched to join the hunt. The aircraft located the suspected PAG, consisting of a whaler-type open boat, soon after and guided the FS NIVOSE to intercept. There were no attack skiffs found in the vicinity of the whaler.
Upon finding the whaler, the FS NIVOSE launched its helicopter which was forced to fire warning shots ahead of the vessel to force the suspected pirates to stop. The crew of the whaler had already been filmed by the MPRA throwing equipment overboard. The French warship launched its boarding team to intercept the whaler and 3 suspected pirates were found on board. Apart from a large number of fuel barrels, no pirate related equipment was discovered.
As there was insufficient evidence to pursue a prosecution, the three suspected pirates were returned to the whaler. Most of the fuel was confiscated but they were left with enough fuel, food and water to reach the Somali coast.
This disruption has hampered pirate action in the area and is assessed to have prevented attacks on merchant and other vulnerable vessels.
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