Piracy Crackdown Off Somalia

Anti-piracy forces off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden have scored some successes in recent days. The efforts are lead by three cooperating military groups, the European Union Naval Force Somalia, a NATO force and the U.S. Navy's Task Force 151. The United States is providing the greatest number of ships for the efforts, divided between the NATO force and TF 151.

Jan. 5: USS Kidd rescues Iranians and dhow Al Molai

Suspected pirates were tracked by airborne assets to a dhow, the Al Molai, in the northern Arabian Sea. The USS Kidd was sent to investigate. By interrogating the crew in a language their captors did not speak, the crew's plight was discovered. Fifteen suspected pirates were detained. The Iranian ship and its crew were released.

Jan. 6: USS Carney frees crew of the dhow Al Qashmi

Acting on intelligence, the USS Carney intercepted the dhow Al Qashmi off the coast of Oman. Nine suspected pirates were discovered after the ship's crew was questioned. Since all evidence of piracy and weapons had been disposed of prior to the arrival of the Carney's boarding party, the suspects were released in their boats with enough supplies to return to Somalia.

Jan. 7: HDMS Absalon frees dhow crew

The Danish warship HDMS Absalon, acting as part of the NATO force, intercepted an Iranian dhow. The vessel appeared to have equipment consistent with being a pirate "mothership." The ship attempted to flee and shots were fired to halt the vessel. A boarding party discovered evidence of a link to piracy and detained 25 suspected pirates.

Jan. 12, 2012: SPS Patino attacked by pirates

The Spanish Navy's SPS Patino, acting as flagship for the European Union's anti-piracy force, was attacked early in the morning on Jan. 12 by several men in a skiff. Spanish Marines aboard the ship responded vigorously and the skiff fled. It was pursued by a helicopter and forced to surrender. Six suspected pirates were injured in the firefight and detained. The claim that a seventh was killed and tossed overboard by the others has not been verified.

Jan. 13: RFA Fort Victoria and USS Carney capture 13 and their ship

NATO forces are reported by Sky News and the USS Carney's Facebook page to have scored another anti-piracy victory. The two ships attempted to stop a dhow and it fled. Royal Marines and British helicopters forced the surrender of the vessel. 13 suspected pirates have been detained.

Somali pirates routinely use "motherships" accompanied by a number of speedboats and skiffs to commit acts of piracy. The large numbers of detainees in the last two weeks point to significant actions being taken against these "motherships" by the various navies.