14 May 2013 15:19 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--The EU Naval Force on Tuesday warned against complacency, saying that Somali pirates remain a threat, on Tuesday.
“I am very concerned that seafarers and nations will lower their guard and support for counter piracy operations in the belief that the piracy threat is over. It is not - it is merely contained,” Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant, Operational Commander of the EU Naval Force, said.
“We should remember that at its height in January 2011, 32 ships were pirated by Somali pirates and 736 hostages were held. It is crucial that we remain vigilant or the number of attacks will once again rise,” he added.
The warning follows the discovery of a boat with six men on board 320 nautical miles (515km) from the Somali coast. As it is unusual to see open top boats this far out to sea, a team from the warship ESPS Rayo went over to investigate, finding equipment on board commonly used in piracy.
Although there was not sufficient evidence to guarantee a legal prosecution, the decision was taken to return the men to the Somali coast so that they did not pose a potential risk to vessels.
This incident comes one year after a chemical tanker MV Smyrni was apprehended by armed pirates off the Somali coast. The vessel and crew were finally released two months ago.
“Whilst not possible this time, when suspect pirates are apprehended by the EU Naval Force, every effort is made to achieve a prosecution, as demonstrated in recent months by the legal transfers by the European Union of suspect pirates to Mauritius and the Seychelles authorities,” spokesperson Lieutenant Commander Jacqueline Sherriff said.
Since May 2012, nine more ships have been attacked, with two vessels and 54 hostages still being held. The EU Naval Force says that pirates are once again issuing death threats to hostages if ransoms are not paid and says this makes it clear that there is no room for complacency.
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