A small team of about 20 Royal Danish Air Force officers and enlisted men fly along the coast of Somalia, verifying shipping activity, distinguishing legitimate maritime traffic from suspected pirate vessels and identifying probable pirate activities off the coastline of Somalia.
The crew operates a CL-604 Challenger aircraft out of an airport in the Seychelles. The aircraft is equipped to conduct maritime surveillance operations and is often used in Denmark to conduct surveillance of fishery zones off Greenland and watch for environmental pollution.
While pirate attacks have been few in the last couple of years, the conditions which lead to piracy are still present and, as such, interested nations must remain vigilant. The Danish detachment is participating in part of a NATO effort that has been on going since 2008 to deter and disrupt pirate attacks, while at the same time protecting vessels and helping increase the stability and security in the region.
“NATO has this time been focusing on the coast of Somalia and so far no pirate activity has been identified” said Major Bjørn Møller, the detachment Commander. “Even though the crews are used to conduct similar operations in Denmark this is something else to be part of an alliance that together protect the shipping industry and not least protect the men and women working aboard the ships in the ocean off of Somalia.”
As an Alliance member in NATO, the Danes bring this capability to support the international effort to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa. Since early on in Operation Ocean Shield, Denmark has contributed multiple naval vessels and surveillance aircraft to the NATO effort for different periods of time.