Dutch Warship Destroys Somali Pirate Boat

By The Maritime Executive 11-19-2012 12:25:00

Another Somali pirate boat goes up in flames as attacks hit a three-year low.

Somali pirates may not be as active as they once were off the coast of African waters, but they still pose a danger. 

AK 47s are no match for the power of a Nato warship, as a group of alleged pirates learned today. Early Wednesday, the crew of the Dutch warship HNLMS Rotterdam, spotted a dhow close to the Somali shore. A boarding team on the Nato warship was dispatched to inspect the vessel because pirate crews often use dhows.

As the entering party confronted the dhow, the Dutch seaman took gunfire from both the dhow and fighters on shore. The boarding party returned fire and quickly the dhow exploded in flames. Those aboard the vessel jumped in the water to escape the blaze. One person aboard the dhow was killed.

The Rotterdam's party rescued 25 men from the ocean, but the rescue proved dangerous as the gunmen on shoreline continued to fire at both the boarding party and the Rotterdam. None of the Rotterdam's crew was injured.

The alleged pirates received medical attention and are now being held aboard the Rotterdam. The Rotterdam serves as the flagship for NATO's counter-piracy task force off the waters of Somalia.

Somali pirate activity typically drops during the monsoon period that has just ended, but the drop this year has been particularly steep. Only 35 ships have been attacked so far this year and only five vessels have actually been seized. In 2010, pirates attacked 174 vessels and seized 47.

The drop in pirate activity is accredited to the presence of counter-piracy task forces and the increasing use of private security forces aboard commercial vessels.
In addition to the NATO task force, there are two other international naval task forces guarding the waters off East Africa. One is a U.S. organized force of coalition countries, the other a smaller naval force from European Union member countries.