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PRACTICE makes perfect.
If you look to your left you’ll see the sailors
and Royal Marines of Her Majesty’s Ship
Portland boarding a dhow in the Gulf of
And on your right you’ll see them
WITH the ruddy-brown bluffs of Somalia behind her, Her Majesty’s Ship
boarding and then destroying a pirate
Portland turns at speed. Just moments later, the frigate was chasing
skiff as one more blow is struck against down suspected pirates – and blowing their boat to smithereens.
the brigands off Somalia.
This is the war against piracy in a
nutshell. Scores of routine boardings and
searches – and the one operation which says
treatment for the Steve Patton. (158 – although it’s just been
to every man and woman aboard: this is why
suspected brigands. And so the mixed party of renamed Iraqi Maritime so one
we’re here.
But despite there being plenty Royals and sailors slithered less number to confuse the Navy
We might as well start with the exciting one.
aboard the craft to suggest their down the rope on to the dhow News team...).
The flaming pyre pictured opposite was all crews had been involved in – or from the Lynx, then carried out On the eve of her success,
that was left of a pirate skiff after the frigate were about to conduct – an act a systematic search and check Portland was visited by 151’s
intercepted ten suspected pirates off the Somali of piracy, there was insufficient of the dhow’s documents. Commanding Officer, Turkey’s
coast as June began. evidence to directly link them And all was in order. Rear Admiral Caner Bener, who
Portland was conducting a security sweep of with an attack. While it was a routine boarding toured the ship and discussed
the Gulf of Aden, aided by a Spanish maritime So off they went – minus all (if you can call any boarding out the ongoing effort to draw a
patrol aircraft. their weaponry. here ‘routine’), the RN is one of dragnet across Pirate Alley
Both picked up a suspicious contact. Portland “We have once again the few forces in the eclectic between Somalia and Yemen.
set a course to intercept. demonstrated the Royal Navy – international force committed to Like Portland, the admiral has
At close range the warship found two and Coalition’s – commitment to anti-piracy which can carry out been with the task force since
suspicious vessels – a ‘mother ship’ skiff and a keeping the sea lanes open and such manoeuvres. its inception (although he wasn’t
small motor boat – with ten men aboard. making these key waters safe Portland currently falls under in charge when it was formed).
She sent her Lynx aloft and, with the machine- for international trade,” said the banner of Combined Task He was impressed with what
gun and a sniper rifle – in the hands of a Portland’s CO Cdr Tim Henry. Force 151 – in early June he saw in Portland and thanked
specially-trained Royal Marine – focused on Just a couple of days before, comprising ships from Turkey, the ship’s company for their
the two skiffs, the ship’s commando and RN the Devonport-based warship UK, the USA, South Korea, continued support and hard
boarding teams moved across in their RIBs. and her 200-plus sailors and Singapore, Denmark and Japan work.
They found – and seized – a substantial marines faced an almost – dedicated to counter-piracy “We’ve contributed to the
haul of piratical paraphernalia: grappling hooks, identical scenario. operations around the Gulf of task force from the very start of
machine-guns, rocket-propelled grenades, Portland was sent to check Aden/Horn of Africa. its operations back in January
other weapons and ammunition. a fishing dhow requiring 151 is the latest addition to and I’ve been impressed with
They also found that the small craft carried investigation. the ‘numbers game’, standing how much has been achieved
extra barrels of fuel to extend their range into “We usually conduct these up only in January. in such a short time,” said Cdr
the shipping lanes. types of boarding by boat but There are already naval task Henry.
After Portland’s boarding team had done its because of the sea state and forces committed to security in “The task force is at the heart
job, one of the skiffs was destroyed, the other size of this dhow, it was decided the wider Indian Ocean (150), of the international community’s
sent on its way with the ten men... to fast rope on to the deck this the central and southern Gulf efforts to address the problem
Which may seem like a rather lenient time,” said boarding officer Lt (152) and in the northern Gulf of piracy.
pictures: la(phot) alex cave, frpu east
018-019_NN_July.indd 1 18/6/09 15:49:47
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