Stark Warning

Al Wilson, the Commander of HMS Sutherland, has issued a stark warning to pirates operating in the Middle East that piracy would not be tolerated by his ship, crew or other maritime forces and that tactics included destroying and confiscating any pirate paraphernalia.

Stark warning to pirates as ship sails

THE COMMANDER of a Plymouth warship has issued a stark warning to pirates operating in the Middle East, writes Rebecca Ricks.

HMS Sutherland’s Commander, Al Wilson, spoke to The Herald yesterday as his ship sailed for the notorious waters around the Horn of Africa.

He said there was a “very clear message” that piracy would not be tolerated by his ship, crew or other maritime forces and that tactics included destroying and confiscating any pirate paraphernalia.

He said: “The destruction and confiscation sends a very clear message to the pirates that what they do is unacceptable and they will be dealt with in accordance of international law, robustly.

“Getting pirates to trial sends a very strong message that we won’t put up with this, we the Royal Navy, HMS Sutherland and the maritime forces in the Middle East will take a robust stance under the remit of international law to make sure this unacceptable behaviour at sea is dealt with.

“We have provision for detaining pirates and if we find them doing this we will detain them onboard for onward prosecution in a neighbouring country to be tried in a court of law.”

Among the traditional items pirates use include; weapons, grappling hooks and skiffs.

HMS Sutherland, a Type 23 Frigate, will patrolling the waters for the next six months conducting counter piracy and counter terrorism operations whilst being on alert for humanitarian disasters.

A select of crack Royal Marines and a skilled Royal Navy boarding team are among the assets being deployed with the ship to tackle the problem head on.

A Merlin helicopter has also joined the deployment which will give the ship the capability to search large distances for suspicious activity.

The Commander said his belief was that the piracy problems begin on land.

Modern day piracy draws back to small gangs of jobless, starving Somalis who used it as a means to an end before mainland gangs and warlords sniffed the lucrative potential drawing in career criminals.

“We are having an effect on the pirates operating methods. Piracy has dramatically changed but we are really disrupting what they do but the ultimate solution is on land not at sea.

“We are dealing with the effect, not the cause and it’s the cause that needs to be dealt with,” Cdr Wilson explained.

The ship and her company will work under an international task force who will give them taskings which could involve the frigate patrolling anywhere from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

Cdr Wilson added: “The pirates have quite a sophisticated network of intelligence and communications, they know we are out here and that has a disruptive affect. As they change their methods in a large naval presence we change our tactics to ensure we are always on top of the game, always one step ahead of the pirates.”

Source: Plymouth Herald

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