International counter piracy collaboration helps NATO to foil pirates
On November 12, 2011, a successful operation between a NATO warship and a Japanese maritime patrol aircraft resulted in the location and disarming of a pirate skiff operating in the Internationally Recognised Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden. Following a boarding investigation all piracy-related equipment was confiscated by NATO to prevent the skiff from posing any further threat to international shipping.
The pirate’s skiff was first detected and identified in the early morning on Saturday by a Japanese Defence Forces Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) conducting a routine patrol over the IRTC and its coordinates were transmitted to all counter piracy forces in the vicinity. The Danish Frigate HDMS Absalon, who only joined NATO’s operation Ocean Shield on November 1, was the closest unit to the position and was tasked to conduct a boarding of the suspect skiff.
Under the watchful eye of the ship’s helicopter the suspected pirates quickly realised that the Absalon’s boarding team would recognise their intent and they were observed to be throwing ladders and other pirate related equipment overboard before surrendering to the boarding team. After a thorough search of the skiff the boarding team assessed that the suspected pirates ability to conduct any further attacks was nullified and after NATO provided the crew of the skiff with enough water, food and fuel to reach to Somali Coast they were given navigational directions to the nearest land.
Along with several other nations the Japanese Defence Forces have committed Maritime Patrol Aircraft to counter piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. MPA aircraft constitute effective assets to detect and disrupt piracy at sea by covering large areas of ocean visually and by radar searching and tracking suspected pirate vessels. This is the latest example of an aircraft working in co-operation with ships to identify and eliminate Pirate Action Groups.
(Allied Maritime Component Command Headquarters Northwood News Release - PDF/42Kb)