War on Terrorism

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vessel Crews Thwart Pirate Attacks in Gulf of Aden

American Forces Press Service

Oct. 29, 2008 - Proactive measures taken by masters and crews of targeted commercial shipping vessels thwarted five piracy attempts yesterday in the Gulf of Aden, Combined Maritime Forces officials reported. Even when shots were fired during two of these attacks, officials said, the crews of commercial shipping vessels conducted evasive maneuvering and used fire hoses to repel their attackers.

"The proactive measures taken yesterday by merchant vessels are exactly what we have been recommending," said Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, commander of Combined Maritime Forces. "For slightly more than two months, the coalition has been working with the commercial shipping industry and the International Maritime Organization to recommend best practices and leverage lessons learned to employ reasonable self-protection measures. These measures range from proactive lookouts and evasive maneuvering to embarking professional security teams."

The Combined Maritime Forces established a maritime security patrol area Aug. 22 in support of the International Maritime Organization's call for international assistance to discourage attacks on commercial vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden. Since its establishment, coalition units have deterred more than two dozen attacks, officials said.

"Piracy is a threat to the security of all nations and requires an international solution," Gortney said. "The coalition's presence is helping deter destabilizing activity, allowing the shipping industry time to implement self-protection measures and the international community to establish a legal framework to hold pirates accountable for their actions."

In addition to coalition naval forces, ships and aircraft from several other nations, including a NATO task force, are operating in the region. Though no formal agreement exists between the coalition and other navies, they have been communicating with each other and sharing information to more effectively patrol the area, officials said, noting that these additional forces allow Combined Task Force 150 to more broadly assign assets to conduct maritime security operations throughout their 2.5 million square mile operating area.

Maritime security operations complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremist use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material, officials explained. Through training opportunities with regional partners, they said, Combined Task Force 150 enhances existing cooperative relationships that aim to support regional countries' struggles against violent extremism.

(From a Combined Maritime Forces news release.)

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