Just days after being in the clutch of pirates, a dhow is back in the hands of its rightful owners thanks to British sailors and marines.
For nearly eight months the Yemeni boat was held by Somali pirates after being hijacked last May. Since then it had been held at a known pirate camp – and served as a mother ship for pirate action groups.
That buccaneering came to an end last week when the dhow and an accompanying skiff were boarded by Royal Marines from RFA Fort Victoria, leading Britain’s fight against piracy presently, after a protracted chase – and after the 14 Somalis aboard the hijacked vessel refused all warning shots to stop from the supply ship’s Lynx.
Fast forward just six days and the dhow is in the process of being returned to its rightful owner, 27-year-old Yemeni Awadh Barasheed from Mukalla, one of his country’s principal ports.
“I am happy to receive my dhow back after being pirated on May 18 2011.
“I would like to thank the Coalition Forces and specifically the British Navy (Royal Navy) for retrieving my dhow from the hands of the criminal pirates.
“This dhow is the only source of income for me, my brothers and our families.”
His boat was handed over to his agent and the captain of Yemeni Navy ship 1031 in international waters in the Gulf of Aden, while the chairman of the Dhows Owners Association of Mukalla, Saleh Bayumain, passed on his gratitude to the Royal Navy-Royal Marines-Royal Fleet Auxiliary team aboard Fort Vic – not just for liberating this craft, but for the ongoing efforts to strangle the piracy scourge.
“We are happy to see a member of our association is getting back to business.
“On behalf of all dhow owners of Mukalla I would like to express my gratitude to the Commander of the British Naval Ship and his dedicated and noble crew members.
“My thanks also extends to all the maritime forces who patrol the area and fight piracy, they have helped us on many occasions and provided help in terms of food, water, fuel and mechanical support.
“Thanks also to our Navy and Coast Guard who followed up with this issue from the beginning and coordinated the delivery of the dhow to its owner.”
Since 2008 the Royal Navy has been actively assisting the local maritime community in the Horn of Africa and Indian Ocean as part of the international fight against piracy.
Right now, Fort Victoria is attached to the NATO counter-piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield, which conducts routine visits to local ships, merchant vessels and fishing dhows going about their lawful business in international waters, to confirm that they are safe and to reassure them that the international maritime forces are in the area as a force for good, to protect them from pirates.
In the past ten days, five pirate groups have been successfully disrupted in the Gulf of Aden and more than 50 pirates face the prospect of prosecution for their alleged actions.
“I was delighted that we were able to return the dhow to its rightful owner,” said Capt Gerry Northwood, who leads the RN task force on Fort Victoria.
“It is important that through our cooperation with the Yemeni Navy, we reassure the local maritime community that we are able to protect their interests.
“They are as much the victims of Somali piracy as the larger international ships navigating through the area.”
Naval Today Staff , January 23, 2012; Image: royalnavy