EU Forces Capture Pirates After Approach and Gunfire with Product Tanker

pirates captured
EUNAVFOR is reporting it took control of the six individuals in today's incident (file photo)

Published May 10, 2024 11:43 AM by The Maritime Executive


EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta is confirming that one of the frigates involved in its security operation off Somalia (Spain's Canarias) has “taken charge” of a suspected band of pirates after the group attempted an assault on a product tanker. The vessel was able to elude the pirates after an exchange of gunfire highlighting the continued danger in the Gulf of Aden and western sections of the Indian Ocean.

The approach took place approximately 100 nautical miles north of Bosaso, Somalia, and west of Socotra island, Yemen, where the security operations have warned that pirate action groups are active. Earlier this week the Maritime Information Cooperation & Awareness Center warned that a possible pirate mothership was operating approximately 350 nautical miles east of Socotra.

This morning, May 10, a small boat with six individuals approached the chemical tanker Chrystal Arctic (74,900 dwt). The vessel registered in the Marshall Islands was heading west toward Egypt on a trip from India. Reports indicate the individuals in the small boat were carrying weapons and a ladder.

Accounts vary if the pirates or the security guards on the tanker fired the first shots. Some indications are that the guards fired warning shots and the pirates returned fire while others said the pirates fired first. The tanker took evasive actions and the pirate boat withdrew.


Spain's Canarias is seen executing the capture and later arrest of the six pirates (EUNAVFOR Atalanta)


Operation Atalanta reports that one of the frigates active in its operation was nearby and responded. It was the first to reach the scene and took charge of the six individuals. They deemed the conditions of the skiff unsafe and were also treating some of them with “injuries of varied severity.” It was unclear if the injuries were from today’s incident.

They reported that the forces were conducting an investigation into the event. The frigate, Spain's Canarias, was gathering evidence for an assessment of the situation.

EUNAVFOR later confirmed that the six individuals had conducted a piracy raid and were arrested and being taken to the Seychelles. A legal agreement permits prosecution in the Seychelles of pirates captured by warships operating in the area.

Last week, Operation Atalanta warned that it believed there were at least two pirate groups active in the region. During April, they said there had been four suspicious approaches and since November 2023 they recorded a total of 31 incidents. Atalanta continues to assess the threat as “Moderate (where an attack is a Realistic Possibility)” off the Somali coasts.