Muscat: Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, the Combined Maritime Forces' (CMF) counter piracy task force, successfully apprehended nine Somali pirates following recent attacks on two vessels in the Indian Ocean.
The CTF 151 staff embarked on RFA Fort Victoria, coordinated with the maritime interdiction supported by HMAS Melbourne and ROKS Wang Geon from CTF 151, European Union flagship HNLMS Johan de Witt, and a Seychelles-based maritime patrol aircraft from Luxembourg.
The task force had been searching for the pirates since they attacked and exchanged gunfire with the supertanker Island Splendor last week in the Indian Ocean. Three days later, a Spanish fishing vessel was also attacked, likely by the same pirate group.
The pirate skiffs were quickly traced and HMAS Melbourne's Sea Hawk helicopter was used to guide the warship to their precise location, some 500 nautical miles off the Somali coast.
HMAS Melbourne's armed and highly trained boarding team made the final approach to board and search the skiffs. They successfully apprehended nine pirates and later destroyed two skiffs and associated pirate equipment.
Commodore Jeremy Blunden, Royal Navy, Commander of CTF 151, said: "This is an excellent result. My multinational counter piracy forces swiftly located and dealt with this Somali pirate group, sending a clear message that piracy no longer pays."
He added: "Nevertheless, the maritime community should continue to remain vigilant about the threat and follow Best Maritime Practices in order to reduce the likelihood of a successful pirate attack.
Commander Brian Schlegel, Royal Australian Navy, Commanding Officer of HMAS Melbourne, said: "It is clear that there are still pirates out there determined to generate income from taking merchant ships hostage. Mariners have been served a timely reminder of the perils of transiting the Somali coastline."