During the night on 21 November, French warship FS Dupleix, operating as part of the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) – Operation Atalanta, was patrolling along the northern coast of Somalia, when she was directed by the EU NAVFOR flagship to provide assistance to a Yemeni dhow – ‘Al Fahad’. The dhow had suffered engine failure and was drifting in a busy shipping lane in the waters of the Gulf of Aden.
FS Dupleix quickly reached the dhow’s location and the warship’s boarding team went to investigate, together with the ship’s doctor and an engineering Petty Officer. After inspecting the engine, the French team managed to repair it; whilst the doctor provided medical assistance and food to the tired, but very relieved crew. Afterwards, the dhow got underway en-route to her next port. FS Dupleix monitored the dhow for a few hours to ensure it was able to proceed safely at sea.
The assistance operation was another excellent example of how information is shared amongst the varying Task Forces operating in the area. The distress call from the ‘Al Fahad’ was received in Bahrain by US Naval Forces Central Command. The dhow was then visually identified by a Japanese Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Next a helicopter from Singaporean frigate RSS Intrepid overflew the dhow and confirmed that the vessel was in distress and in a dangerous location. Following this the EU NAVFOR Force Commander, on board ITS San Giusto, patrolling near the south-eastern coast of Somalia, directed FS Dupleix to sail to the dhow’s position and provide urgent assistance.
Naval Today Staff,November 26, 2012; Image: EU Navfor