Between 21 and 23 April, a suspected pirate gang attacked one Korean and one Spanish fishing vessels off the Somali coast, before being apprehended by EU NAVFOR Atalanta. These were the first attempted pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa since October last year.
The suspected pirates hijacked a Yemeni dhow on 19 April and used it as their mother ship to carry out the attacks with skiffs two days later.
EU NAVFOR dispatched air and sea forces with almost immediate success, quickly identifying the dhow in distress. ESPS Navarra, the current Atalanta flagship, intercepted and boarded the mother ship, apprehending five suspected pirates and releasing 23 hostages aboard. The suspects were transferred to Seychellois authority on 25 April, in accordance with a transfer agreement between the European Union and the Seychelles.
This operation demonstrates the successful operability of the new is a test for the new command system recently transferred from the UK to Rota, Spain. The last reported attack took place seven months ago in October 2018, but at the time no ship was captured. A similar operation combining air and sea forces took place in November 2017, ending in an arrest. For Atalanta Operation Commander Antonio Martorell, “This incident clearly demonstrates piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia has not been eradicated. The need for a strong maritime security presence in the high-risk area remains critical for the deterrence and prevention of future incidents and attacks.”