25 MAR 2021
Expressing its serious concern about the maritime security situation in the Gulf of Guinea, the Danish government announced that it plans to deploy a frigate to the region in the fall of 2021. The decision to deploy a naval vessel to the region comes after the Danish Minister of Defense and shipping companies including Maersk had spoken out on the dangers in the region and called for greater action.
As the world’s fifth-largest marine nation, Denmark says on average there are 30 to 40 Danish operated ships sailing through the Gulf of Guinea daily. They placed the value of the trade at $1.6 billion annually but as a seafaring nation said they believed their obligations extended to protecting all commercial shipping and the right to free navigation. In January 2021, Denmark appointed a special representative for maritime security, Ambassador Jens-Otto Horslund, to address the issues in the Gulf of Guinea.
The frigate will be initially be deployed in the region for a period of five months from approximately November 2021 to March 2022. The time period was selected as historically with calmer seas and improved weather conditions there is an increase in private activity during those months.
“Denmark is deploying a frigate to the Gulf of Guinea because maritime security is challenged. Pirates are behind several severe kidnappings in the area and it threatens the security of Danish and foreign crews,” said Danish Minister of Defense Trine Bramsen. “In such a situation we cannot and shall not just watch. We must stand up for the right to free navigation. The Danish Navy has previously proved strong and important in the combating of the pirates.”
In a joint statement from the ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, they said the task of the frigate will be to combat the pirates and support and escort the civil shipping in the area. The frigate will be equipped with a Seahawk helicopter and it will be able to deploy special operation forces from the frigate’s naval task force. The task force is among other things trained for carrying out rescue operations on hijacked ships.
The vessel will be deployed under Danish command in international waters but they will work to coordinate with other international allies in the region. As part of the initiative, Minster Bramsen said an international military presence is necessary. She said Denmark would seek to have more countries involved and taking responsibility for maritime security in the region.
“The Danish flag is a reliable sign of security and safety at sea as Denmark undertakes its responsibility as a marine nation when the safety and the right to free navigation are threatened. We will now apply sharp measures against the pirates in the Gulf of Guinea both in terms of diplomatic and military contributions,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jeppe Kofod. “We have also increased our stabilization efforts in the area co-operating with relevant coastal states. It is a matter of contributing to making the countries more able themselves to handle the safety. We will fight the pirate attacks as well as the causes for the pirate actions.”
The Danish government said that its concern comes from the fact that 40 percent of all pirate attacks reported worldwide take place in the Gulf of Guinea. In 2020 alone, they said around 140 seamen were kidnapped in the region.
The security initiative was discussed in the Foreign Affairs Committee and before deploying, the Danish government will ask for a resolution in the Danish Parliament.