EU Launches Naval Operation to Deal With Pirates

December 8, 2008 Updated: December 8, 2008

The European Commission launched on Dec. 8 a naval operation to deal with the increasing pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. The special mission aims to prevent and repel pirate attacks on ships travelling of the extensive coast of Somalia. Tragically, these pirate attacks target even vessels carrying food and other provisions sent by the United Nations to the displaced people in Somalia.

“The pirates are very agile, they learn quickly, there are adapting new tactics all the time…So we have got to be very agile too, to learn lessons from the operations that happened and deploys our forces accordantly,” said Operation Commander Admiral Philip Jones at the meeting in Brussels, broadcasted by the European Community.

The operation with its headquarters in Northwood, United Kingdom, will be equipped with frigates, airplanes and helicopter. At any one time, it has the capability to engage up to 6 frigates, 3 maritime patrol aircrafts and about 1,200 combatants, according to the Council of the European Union.

Admiral Jones said that the piracy in the regions is the result of the failure of the state of Somalia and the naval operation attempts to “help restore a degree of security and stability in the seas of Somalia.”

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), an UN organization for making and maintaining international shipping regulations, the attacks have recently escalated and become more ferocious. Since 1984, IMO has recorded 440 attacks, but this year alone accounts for more than 120 reported attacks. The pirates have seized 35 ships and kidnapped more than 600 seafarers for ransom. Fourteen ships and 280 seafarers are, at present, held hostage in Somalia. Two seafarers have died.

At a UN briefing on Nov. 21 the IMO Secretary-General, Efthimios E. Mitropoulos called on states to aid in the fight against the “scourge of piracy” and to enforce laws to punish the offenders.

Following a request by the UN, NATO assigned three ships that are patrolling the pirates infested region since October.