EUNAVFOR Provides Details on Abducted Fishing Boat to Somalia for Follow-Up
The joint EU-sponsored force responsible for maritime security along the East African coast including Somalia reports that it has tracked and provided details to the Somali police forces for follow-up on the recent security incident. First reported a week ago, the disappearance of a fishing boat raised fears of new piracy activity in the northwestern Indian Ocean off Somalia and came days before the assault on the tanker Central Park, which the U.S. blamed on pirates.
Media reports in Somalia last week highlighted the seizure of the ALMERAJ 1 possibly as a stateless vessel involved in illegal fishing activities. The report said that pirates had seized the fishing dhow and were demanding $400,000 in ransom while threatening to use the vessel as a mother ship for additional assaults on commercial shipping.
The European Union Naval Force Operation (EUNAVFOR) ATALANTA which monitors shipping to maintain security in the region reports it was informed of the incident on November 22 by the commander of the Somali Coast Guard. EUNAVFOR began investigating the reports of an abduction of what they are calling an Iranian-flagged fishing dhow off the coast of Eyl (Puntland, Somalia).
Operation ATALANTA monitored the dhow closely for more than 230 nautical miles away from the coast of Somalia. This included the deployment of an unarmed drone and the involvement of the EU embassy in Mogadishu and the Somali authorities. An Italian and a Spanish warship are currently deployed to the area of operation for Operation ATALANTA.
EUNAVFOR reports tracking the vessel including through the use of a drone (EUNAVFOR)
“Ultimately, having also lost its two towed skiffs in adverse weather, ALMERAJ 1 reversed course toward the Puntland coast and reached the Somalia territorial waters,” reports the command of the EU operation. After being closely monitored by ATALANTA units, they communicated its last known position to the Somali police forces. “Eventually, Somali police forces took over the escort to shore, and for following actions with regard to the suspected pirates.”
EUNAVFOR reports that the last piracy incident in the region took place in 2019. The operation remains vigilant to any maritime security events in its area. They also strongly recommend merchant and other vulnerable vessels register in the Maritime Security Centre - Horn of Africa's Voluntary Registration Scheme, to provide the most effective monitoring and response by ATALANTA forces and their partners in countering maritime security threats.
Operations and the registration requirements transitioned to a voluntary basis after the successful efforts reduced the risk and ended the frequent actions against merchant ships in the region. However, with renewed tensions across the region, the U.S. and UK issued new security warnings this week for all ships operating in the areas ranging from the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, and the Persian Gulf.