17 MAY 2024

An EU warship is transferring six suspected pirates to the Seychelles for possible prosecution following an incident in the Gulf of Aden that has now be classified as a pirate attack.

The European Union Naval Force’s (EUNAVFOR) Operation ATALANTA last week confirmed a “suspicous approach” involving the Marshall Islands-flagged Chrystal Arctic, taking place last Friday approximately 100 nautical miles north of Bosaso, Somalia.

As per the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), the suspect vessel was seen carrying 5-6 armed individuals equipped with ladders, approaching the tanker. On sighting the potential threat, the tanker’s Master implemented self-protection measures. The armed individuals on the small craft opened fire, leading to the vessel’s Armed Security Team returning fire, prompting the small craft to abandon its approach.

An Operation ATALANTA warship arrived at the scene and took the six suspected pirates into custody, with some requiring medical treatment for their injuries.

EUNAVFOR forces apprehend suspected Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Photo courtesy EUNAVFOR

Upon assessment of the evidence collected by ATALANTA forces, EUNAVFOR has now classified the incident as a piracy attack and an ATALANTA warship is now transporting the six suspected pirates to Seychelles.

Seychelles is among the nations with whom Operation ATALANTA has a legal agreement allowing for the trial of suspected pirates arrested by its warships.

EUNAVFOR suspects the presence of two or more pirate action groups off the Somali coast following a string of recent dhow hijackings. Two merchant vessels, the MV Ruen and the MV Abdullah, were hijacked since December, with the former rescued by the Indian Navy after a three-month hostage situation and the latter released after a purported ransom payment.


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