MANAMA, Bahrain – A request for assistance from a Japanese-owned merchant vessel in the Somali Basin led to the crew of the Combined Maritime Forces warship USS Bulkeley securing the release of the vessel and its 24 crew members from four suspected pirates yesterday.
At about 3 p.m. local time March 5, the oil tanker Guanabara reported it was under attack 328 nautical miles southeast of Duqm, Oman.
USS Bulkeley, assigned to the Combined Task Force 151 counterpiracy mission, was directed to intercept Guanabara, supported by the Turkish warship TCG Giresun of NATO’s counterpiracy Task Force 508.
Following confirmation from Guanabara’s master that the suspected pirates were on board and his crew had taken refuge in the ship, Bulkeley’s boarding team, supported overhead by its embarked SH-60 helicopter, secured the Bahamian-flagged vessel and detained four men.
There was no exchange of fire at any time during the operation, and the decision on what to do with the suspected pirates has yet to be made, officials said.
Commodore Abdul Aleem of the Pakistani navy, commander of Combined Task Force 151, praised the latest success in the international counterpiracy effort in a statement released yesterday.
“The ships and aircraft under my command have today scored a real and immediate victory through the disruption of a suspected act of piracy and the detention of individuals believed to be engaging in piracy,” he said. “Through our mutual cooperation and shared coordination, CTF 151 and our partner organizations have prevented the kidnapping of legitimate mariners who sought only to go peacefully about their business. Today, there will be a merchant ship sailing freely that would not be doing so were it not for the efforts of CTF 151.”
In accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions and in cooperation with nonmember forces, the Combined Maritime Forces mission is to disrupt piracy and armed robbery at sea and to engage with regional and other partners to build capacity and improve relevant capabilities to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation, officials said.