How European Union Naval Force patrolling the coast of Somalia rescued oil tanker in distress

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A member of the European Union Naval Force ATALANTA (EU NAVFOR) on board the rescued vessel MT AEGIAN II. PHOTO/ EU NAVFOR

KEY ISSUES

  • Rescued oil tanker MT AEGIAN II was in distress
  • No pirates had boarded the vessel
  • European Union Naval Force ATALANTA (EU NAVFOR) crew rescued the vessel
  • Vessels transiting Somalia asked to register to Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA)
  • Vessels been asked to comply with the recommended Best Management Practises (BMP 5) to deter piracy and crime at sea

By PATRICK MAYOYO

newsdesk@reporter254.com

New details have emerged how the European Union Naval Force ATALANTA (EU NAVFOR) that patrols the coast of Somalia to deter piracy and armed robbery at sea rescued a Panama registered oil tanker that was in distress.

According to a statement issued by EU NAVFOR said that on August 18th, its Joint Operations Centre detected suspicious movements of a Panama flagged oil tanker namely MT AEGIAN II that had armed security guards on board that was in transit from Shajah (UAE) and bound for Mogadishu (Somalia) after the vessel altered her course without any apparent reason.

“Expeditious investigations conducted by an EU NAVFOR maritime patrol aircraft including radio contact, concluded that the vessel was having technical problems and the crew was safe,” the statement added.

These revelations contract earlier reports that had indicated that six armed men had hijacked the Panama-flagged oil tanker on August 18 after its engines stalled.

No pirates had boarded the vessel

“EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta has completed incident response procedures in response to a possible act of piracy off the Coast of Somalia with the support of a Japanese aircraft of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and in close coordination with local authorities in Somalia,” the EU NAVFOR statement noted.

European Union Naval Force ATALANTA (EU NAVFOR) naval officers on guard on the rescued vessel MT AEGIAN II. PHOTO/ EU NAVFOR

The European Union (EU) launched the European Union Naval Force ATALANTA (EU NAVFOR) in December 2008 to protect vessels of the  World Food Programme (WFP), deter, prevent and represses piracy and armed robbery at sea, monitor fishing activities off the coast of Somalia and support other EU missions and international organizations working to strengthen maritime security and capacity in the region.

EU NAVFOR is one part of the EU’s “Integrated Approach”, to support Somalia tackle piracy and other maritime violations in its territorial waters.

The EU Delegation is supported by other Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) Missions in the region as EUCAP Somalia: (designed to support regional maritime capacity-building) and EUTM Somalia (military training of members of the Somali National Armed Forces) work together from a coherent, integrated CSDP package supporting the EU’s Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa.

The statement added that EU NAVFOR naval ships ESPS Santa Maria was dispatched to investigate and execute incident response procedures with the support of a CMF aircraft.

EU Naval Force ATALANTA crew rescued the vessel

“Contacted by EU NAVFOR OP ATALANTA Force Commander, RDAM Villanueva, Bossaso port authority reported that MT “AEGEAN II” had not been hijacked and that Garadfoo police had been sent on board to inspect the vessel when she was drifting off Bereeda waiting for technical assistance,” they added.

The statement noted that while ESPS Santa Maria was collecting information, the Master revealed that there had been certain incidents on board the vessel.

“At this point, the event cannot be classified as a maritime security event, but a more detailed investigation is in progress,” the EU Navy noted.

It said MT “AEGEAN II” weighed anchor and is currently underway proceeding to an intermediate destination being closely monitored by ESPS Santa Maria.

It added that the incident underlines, once again, the importance of EU NAVFOR Somalia’s presence at the Horn of Africa in the fulfilment of Operation ATALANTA’s mandate and that cooperation with local authorities, as well as other stakeholders in the region is essential to ensure freedom of navigation in the region.

Ships transiting Somalia asked to register to MSCHOA

The EU NAVFOR called on vessels transiting the Somalia territorial waters to  register to Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA), Voluntary Registration Scheme run by the EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR).

European Union Naval Force ATALANTA (EU NAVFOR) naval vessel ESPS Santa Maria close to the rescued MT AEGIAN II. PHOTO/ EU NAVFOR

The (MSCHOA) helps protect merchant shipping in the region by providing information that assists in preventing pirate attacks and disrupting the activities of pirate groups

“This will allow EU NAVFOR Somalia to monitor vessels in the area and use its assets in a more efficient way,” they added.

EU NAVFOR Somalia also urged the maritime industry to remain vigilant when transiting the high-risk area and to comply with the recommended Best Management Practises (BMP 5).

The revised Best Management Practises (BMP 5) launched on 28 June, 2018 has significantly changed the some of the guidelines to deal with piracy and armed robbery threats at sea contained in BMP4that includes the use of anti-ship missiles, sea mines and Water-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (WBIED).

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