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14 pirates held off Oman coast

Tuesday, May 15, 2012
REJIMON K

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Muscat: In a swift operation, Turkish naval forces intercepted a Somali ship, detained 14 pirates and rescued seven Yemeni sailors, 190 nautical miles off the Oman coast on Sunday.

The successful rescue operation was the culmination of a sequence of events that started on May 10 afternoon following reports that a chemical tanker had been attacked by a skiff launched from a suspected pirate mother ship.

According to sources, NATO'S anti-piracy task force commander Rear Admiral (LH) Sinan Azmi Tosun dispatched Turkish warship TCG Giresun to investigate the matter. When Giresun reached the area, it received an update from a coalition maritime patrol aircraft of a suspicious dhow very close to the vessel. Once near the vessel, the Turkish helicopter hovered over the suspected boat and ordered it to stop.

Subsequently, commandos were dispatched on a speedboat who discovered 14 suspected Somalis pirates and seven Yemeni hostages on board the mother ship.

When the Turkish forces searched the ship, they found a cache of arms and ammunition including nine AK-47 assault rifles and hundreds of bullets as well as one RPG launcher and
three grenades.

When quizzed, the Somalis admitted that they had sailed from the east coast of Somalia last week to capture merchant ships. Subsequently, all weapons seized by the NATO forces and the Yemeni crew were taken back and the Yemeni crew were allowed to carry on their voyage.

This was the latest rescue operation launched by the NATO's joint anti-piracy task force named Ocean Shield.

"This coordinated action by the international anti-piracy forces sends a strong message to offenders that piracy will not be tolerated. I am happy that another group of pirates has been denied the opportunity to threaten the merchant traffic. NATO, alongside other international forces, will continue to thwart the plans of pirates and teach them a lesson,- said Rear Admiral (LH) Sinan Azmi Tosun.

Last week, 26 sailors were taken captive when pirates seized a Greek-owned oil tanker carrying approximately one million barrels of crude oil -” worth $115 million at current prices -” while the vessel was sailing in the Arabian Sea.

The International Maritime Bureau recorded 439 acts of piracy worldwide last year, most of which occurred off the coast of Somalia.
The region's heavily armed pirates sometimes hold ships for months before releasing them for ransoms paid by their owners or governments.

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