Following an attack in early January on a merchant vessel 260 miles off the Somali Coast, twelve men suspected of committing an act of piracy, were today transferred by EU Naval Force warship FS Surcouf to the Mauritian authorities for prosecution.
When the attack happened on 5th January, the master of the merchant vessel sent out a distress call reporting that he and his crew were coming under attack by six men in a fast moving boat, armed with rocket propelled grenades. Thankfully, having employed avoidance tactics, the merchant vessel was able to repel the attack.
Upon hearing the distress call, NATO warship USS Halyburton, operating as part of NATO’s counter piracy operation – Ocean Shield, and on patrol 80 nautical miles away, launched her helicopter and was able to quickly locate a suspect boat – which was by now towing another vessel, with several men on board.
EU Naval Force French Frigate Surcouf, operating as part of the EU’s counter piracy mission – Operation Atalanta, made best speed to the area, as a German EU Naval Force Maritime Patrol Aircraft kept watch overhead. Upon arrival, and in full cooperation with the NATO warship, the boarding team from French warship Surcouf boarded the two suspect vessels and apprehended twelve men in total.