Skip to comments.French marines on trawlers repel pirates in Indian Ocean
Posted on 10/10/2009 5:12:00 PM PDT by csvset
French marines aboard trawlers in the Indian Ocean Saturday fired on pirates to repel a dawn attack, as two vessels used in the attack were subsequently captured by Seychelles coastguards, sources said.
"Three small launches... (which were) nearly invisible and that we had on the radar at the last moment, chased us," a member of the crew of the Drennac, one of two fishing vessels approached by the pirates, told AFP by telephone.
The French military said the marines had first fired flares then "warning shots in the air and across the bows of the pirates' boats", before finally, when the pirates opened fire "probably with Kalashnikovs", aimed at the skiffs, which "immediately stopped pursuing" their target.
It was the first time that French marines, who have been providing protection since July 1 on board about 10 French fishing ships off the Somali coast, had opened fire on pirates.
The incident took place 195 nautical miles (350 kilometres) north of the Seychelles. There were no casualties aboard the French boats, the Drennac and the Glenan.
A Western source in the same area said the pirate skiffs involved returned to a mother ship some 30 metres (90 feet) long, "likely an old Asian long-line fishing vessel, the Win Far, which has been under surveillance for the past several months when it was anchored off the Somali coast."
A Seychelles coastguard vessel, the Topaze, patrolling in the area at the time of the attack, immediately gave chase to the mother ship and closed with it shortly after midday, as a military surveillance plane flew overhead.
The Topaze, an old but well-armed vessel, captured the mother ship and one small pirate boat. A second small boat managed to escape, the source said, adding it had "all happened very quickly".
The captured boats, positively identified as those involved in Saturday's attack, will likely be taken to the Seychelles.
France's secretary of state for European affairs Pierre Lellouche told AFP from Djibouti that Saturday's incident "confirms that pirate attacks are on the increase again after the monsoon and Ramadan, and second it shows that they (the pirates) are venturing further and further away, because the Seychelles is an awful long way from Puntland (in northern Somalia) where they have their base," he said.
"Thirdly, it shows that our protection measures for French tuna haulers are working and that we are managing to protect our fishermen and that is very important," he added.
Some 60 marines are involved in this French protection measure, which was put in place at the request of ship owners and is distinct from both the European Union and NATO anti-piracy operations in the region.
Spanish fishing vessels operating in the same region have called for similar protection measures but Madrid has so far refused.
A Spanish tuna boat, the Alakrana, was captured on October 2 on the high seas between Somalia and the Seychelles with 36 crew on board.
The pirates brought it into the coast and it is currently anchored off Harardere, a central Somalia port, under surveillance from two frigates that are part of the European anti-piracy operation Atalanta.
On Wednesday Somali pirates operating at night attacked a French military command and supply ship, La Somme, after mistaking it for a cargo vessel, and five were captured by the naval crew.
French Defence Minister Herve Morin said Saturday the presence of the marines aboard trawlers would "continue throughout the fishing season to ensure as much security as possible to fishermen."
Hailing the response to the latest attack, he said he intended to visit the region for talks with authorities in the Seychelles.
Somali pirates are currently holding four foreign vessels and 111 seamen, according to environmental protection group Ecoterra International.
There have been 174 such attacks since the start of the year, 49 of them successful hijackings.
Ecoterra says around 3,000 fishing vessels are registered to operate in the region with the inter-governmental body the Indian Ocean Commission.
Ecoterra accuses some of these vessels of fishing illegally in the zone that should be reserved for Somali vessels. It is difficult to tell which country vessels belong to as they often sail under a flag of convenience.
WTG France. I think the pirates should be killed right then and there, but that’s just me.
With their smell???
Wahhya know, the French have shown some balls after all !! Must be the American loving Sarkozy pushing them !!
Actually, the best outcome would have been for all but one of the pirates to be killed, the one to “escape” then the “mother ship” to be captured after the one returned to it. Even better, the mother ship should have been sunk with all hands with a video of the operation being posted in Arabic.
I for one am happy to see that the French may have lost their white flags.
If someone tried to attack my boat with that pathetic thing, I would: laugh, gun it, laugh some more. What a p.o.s.
The Spanish are the new French.
Thank you for your Service.
And for you home page... :-)
One would hope that the French, as a humanitarian gesture, would release the pirates to swim home!
Must be a Marine thing. Marines, regardless country of origin, are fearless and dont know the meaning of surrender.
Good on the French. IMO, their WWII troops have always taken the brunt of scorn when it should have been directed at their generals, Gamelan in particular.
When we invaded North Africa in 1942, the Vichy French put up a pretty good fight, killing and wounding over half our 400-man commando force at Oran.
They also did some pretty nasty work in Algeria before independence, and I suspect if they had to again, they’d beat Hell out of the Muzzies.
I’m just too late to this thread. You’ve said my feelings exactly!
Not all that old. Completed for the Indian navy as Patrol Vessel INS Tarmugli in 2002. Transfered to the Seychelles in 2005
As warships go she's nobbut a lass.
Yes, they’d be dead if I was commanding the boat. Given a speedy trial at sea and executed. All video’d of course.
I had the thought that all ships should have 6 cages of hungry pit bulls on board and if pirates make it over the side, the captain can just push a button the cages open and the dogs have dinner.....