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EU NAVFOR a supporting asset in fight against Piracy

Muscat Daily
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
by Richard Thomas

The European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) maritime security mission to the region is part of a comprehensive approach by the international community to rein in the threat from Somali pirates, according to Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, force commander, EU NAVFOR.

Briefing local and international media on board the Italian amphibious assault ship ITS San Giusto on Tuesday, Credendino said that although his fleet was on the front line of the conflict, a solution to the issue must come from land.

Other missions like EUCAP Nestor and the AMISOM deployment helped boost Somalia's ability to police its own borders. “The AMISOM mission has done a really good job.

"It has been a stable presence and has been training Somali forces and providing essential equipment. The EUCAP Nestor mission has been training the Somali Coast Guard as well. So we are just a supporting asset to the solution,” Credendino said.

EUNAVFOR's fleet of a dozen warships and maritime patrol aircraft was also preparing for the onset of the pirate season, which follows the abatement of the seasonal monsoon.

Credendino said that EU forces were also trained to quickly distinguish pirates from local fishermen, who would also take advantage of the calmer weather and head out to sea.

“There is no danger in this regard. Pirate vessels have a lot of paraphernalia like ropes, ladders and guns, which is very different from what you would see on fishing vessels. Fishermen can have one or two assault rifles. So if you are trained, you understand the difference.”

Despite the success of the mission, he said it would be unable to concentrate on other piracy-hit regions during its current deployment. “At the moment we are concentrating on the area around the Horn of Africa. We probably don't have enough assets to form another mission, but yes, it could work in the west (coast of Africa).”

“The time between October and November is the most dangerous time of the year. We expect pirates to come out and we will be ready to stop them. Our mandate is to stay out at sea, not to go to Somalia.”
On the prospect of a GCC task force, he said that more ships deployed to the region would assist in policing an area which is one and a half times the size of mainland Europe. “We know there has been some discussion on a Gulf task force. The more ships we have, the better it is.”


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