During the last week, EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia Operation Atalanta warships FGS Hessen and ESPS Tornado have carried out several ‘Friendly Approaches’ in the Gulf of Aden.
In addition to patrols in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, EU Naval Force warships and their boarding teams routinely conduct reconnaissance and surveillance operations, including visual and physical checks of vessels transiting the High Risk Area.
These checks or, “friendly approaches” are conducted to gather information on piracy, as well as gaining a better understanding of the maritime community off the Horn of Africa by speaking with the crews of fishing and trading vessels in the region. During these visits, Masters are also made aware of the Best Management Practices for Protection against Somali Based Piracy (BMP), i.e. self-protection measures against pirates.
The numbers of friendly approaches by EU Naval Force Warships has increased recently due to the rising number of skiffs and dhows in the Gulf of Aden, following the end of the North East Monsoon. The improved sea conditions are also more favourable for pirates to launch skiffs from the shore.
Rear Admiral Hervé Bléjean, the Force Commander of Operation Atalanta, said: “The regular communication with the local maritime community, the understanding of pattern of life and the sharing of information with all our counter-piracy partners in Operation Atalanta’s area of operation are key factors enhancing the EU Naval Force ability to conduct effective counter-piracy operations”.
The EU Naval Force protects vessels of the World Food Programme (WFP) delivering aid to displaced persons in Somalia and the protection of African Union Mission on Somalia (AMISOM) shipping. In addition, EU NAVFOR also contributes to the monitoring of fishing activities off the coast of Somalia.
Press Release, March 12, 2014, Image: EUNAVFOR