Sunday, August 14, 2011

Take that! Royal Marines blow up Somali pirates' ammunition-packed boat in battle to keep Indian Ocean safe

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 11:39 AM on 19th November 2010

A boat belonging to Somali pirates goes up in a ball of flame after being destroyed by British commandos in the Indian Ocean.

The swoop by Royal Marines off the coast of Africa is part of the continuing battle to make safe shipping lanes off the coast of Africa.

It comes less than a week after Britons Paul and Rachel Chandler were released by Somali pirates, who kidnapped them 13 months ago.

Destroyed: A Somali pirate ship is detroyed by a team of British special forces off the African coast
Many other hostages, who have not had ransoms paid, are still held in captivity.

The Marines found this boat packed with ammunition which they believe was intended for hijacks. The pirate crew was later released on the Somali coast.

The operation was led by Corporal Michael Murray, 28, who was on duty on the Fort Victoria - part of the Navy's Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

Cpl Murray and his team scrambled launches to tackle the pirates, who they found without food and using a makeshift sail after losing engine power. They threw their weapons overboard and surrendered.

In his sights: A member of the Royal Marines Raiding Craft trains his gun on the pirate ship as his colleagues board it
NATO forces have been stationed off the Horn of Africa since December 2008 and have been fired upon by pirates.

Cpl Murray, from Oldham, said: 'In this part of the world there is always the chance that you're going to encounter pirate vessels, and this one was a few miles from the ship.

'From the alert going out we had 20 minutes to prepare and get ready to go.We were told it was a whaler, which is the kind of boat that pirates often use in the Indian Ocean.

'We approached with our fast boats and were ready for any exchange of fire. Fortunately they didn't offer any resistance. 'They put their hands up and we were able to come alongside and carry out a search, during which we found ammunition.'

UK Royal Marines destroy Somali pirate vessel

UK Royal Marines destroy Somali pirate vessel

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Written by defenceWeb
Friday, 26 November 2010 11:45

A British task team has destroyed a boat that was being used by pirates off the coast of Somalia to attack merchant ships. Royal Marines, assigned to the Plymouth-based frigate HMS Montrose, fired their machine guns at the pirate vessel as they hovered above it in the warship's Fleet Air Arm Lynx helicopter, the UK DoD says in a statement.

The incident took place during a routine patrol off the Somali coast yesterday, when the helicopter identified the suspect boat as the whaler from MV Aly Zoulfecar, which had been acting as a pirate 'mother ship' since it was hijacked on 3 November 2010.

The whaler was anchored off a known pirate camp and, once permission had been given to take it out, the Royal Marines marksmen fired their M3M .50-calibre machine guns and destroyed it, the statement explained.

HMS Montrose's commanding officer, Commander Jonathan Lett, says his ship "has been patrolling off the Somali coast for some time and we know how the pirates operate. Our destruction of the whaler close to a known pirate camp has sent a message to the Somali pirates that NATO and other coalition forces are willing to take the fight to them in order to prevent them from attacking merchant ships." HMS Montrose is operating off the Somali coast as part of NATO's counter-piracy operation, OCEAN SHIELD.

According to Sky News, senior British commanders and other sources in the Ministry of Defence have warned the goverment of Prime Minister David Cameron not to underestimate the threat posed by Somali pirates saying that they fear the recent increase in attacks in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean could result in the UK's gas and oil supplies being disrupted, causing a rise in prices over the winter.

The Royal Navy and its supporters are also lobbying for the new Nimrod MRA4 marine reconnaissance aircraft project to be brought back to life.
Earlier this month the European Union anti-piracy task force rescued a South African yachtsman after he was left behind by Somali pirates who were trying to hijack his yacht. Two crew members, both South African, were taken onshore as hostages.
Somali pirates typically hijack merchant vessels, take the ships to coastal towns they control and hold them until a ransom is paid. As ransoms are usually in the millions of dollars, the lucrative trade has continued despite foreign naval patrols. According to the International Maritime Board, ship hijackings hit a five-year high of 39 in the first nine months of the year -- 35 of them carried out by Somali pirates. At least 31 vessels and 541 hostages remain in Somali pirate hands in several locations, according to the latest report by Ecoterra International, a piracy monitoring group.