On Sunday 30 March, EU Naval Force French flagship, FS Siroco and the Japanese Navy destroyer, JDS Samidare met at sea in the Gulf of Aden.
The Japanese Commander of Escort Division 4, Captain Hiroaki Tajiri and members of his staff took the opportunity to visit the Operation Atalanta Force Commander, Rear Admiral Hervé Bléjean on board the EU flagship, FS Siroco. The visit followed the close cooperation between the two warships in January, when a merchant vessel was attacked by pirates.
On 18 January, FS Siroco intercepted a pirated dhow after it had been successfully tracked by the helicopter from JDS Samidare and a Japanese Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA). As the European Union has legal agreements with regional states to transfer those suspected of piracy for prosecution, FS Siroco was then able to apprehend the suspected pirates. The joint action demonstrated the effectiveness of international cooperation when conducting counter piracy operations.
“Coordinated interceptions such as this are a perfect example of international navies operating close-up and an excellent way to benchmark our action processes regarding vessel protection and the interception in counter-piracy operations,” commented Captain Le Quilliec.
The visit at sea ended with an experience-sharing meeting, which both crews found extremely useful.
Rear Admiral Bléjean concluded the meeting by commenting “I am delighted that the day finally arrived for me to meet my Japanese counterpart following the decisive action he conducted in January with the Japanese Navy assets and the Japanese MPRA based in Djibouti. As it is just a few days before I hand over my force command, this meeting was for me a conclusive symbol of the achievements of the force and more particularly Siroco during her operations in the area”.
The meeting ended with the two ships doing a traditional ‘sail past’ each other before they headed back to their respective operational tasks in Gulf of Aden.
The EU Naval Force Somalia, Operation Atalanta Force Headquarters on board FS SIROCO took command on 6 December 2013 for 4 months. The Japanese destroyer SAMIDARE is their counter piracy flagship. Since the start of their operations in the Gulf of Aden, the Japanese Navy has escorted safely thousands of merchant vessels crossing the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor.
Press Release, April 4, 2014; Image: EUNAVFOR