EU naval force arrests 6 Somali pirates, seize vessels Featured

MOGADISHU -- The European Union naval force (EU NAVFOR) confirmed Tuesday its Italian warship arrested six suspected Somali pirates and seized their vessels after a chase in the piracy-infested Southern Somali Basin.

EU NAVFOR Spokesperson Dave Fielder said the six crew of a motor whaler, acting as mother ship, and a skiff were detained following attacks on a 52,000 tonne container ship and a fishing vessel on Nov. 17 and 18.

"The suspected pirates were apprehended by the Italian Marines from ITS Virginio Fasan after their vessels were located using Fasan's SH-90 helicopter, following initial searches by the Spanish Maritime Patrol Aircraft Cisne," EU NAVFOR said in a statement.

The EU naval force which have been patrolling the Indian Ocean waters said the pirates launched a number of rocket propelled grenades against the container ship during their attack.

"However, adherence to BMP4 (Best Management Practices against Somali pirates), the presence of a security team on one of the vessels, and good seamanship avoided any damage or injuries, and all crew and vessels are now safe," it said.

Maritime experts have warned that Somali pirates tend to be well armed with automatic weapons and RPG and sometimes use skiffs launched from mother vessels, which may be hijacked fishing vessels or dhows, to conduct attacks far from the Somali coast.

The naval force has encouraged masters and ship owners to follow the latest BMP procedures and ensure that the vessel is hardened prior to entering the High Risk Area.

The EU naval force said the legal process has now begun for the suspected pirates to be transferred to the appropriate authority for prosecution.

Maritime experts said lack of economic opportunities and the prevalence of illegal fishing are pushing more Somalis to turn to piracy -- partly as a form of protest and partly because they see no other options.

Source: Xinhua