DANISH special forces yesterday stormed a ship captured by armed Somali pirates and freed the 25 crew on board, an EU naval spokesman said, marking the first time a warship has intervened during a hijacking.
After the vessel Ariella sent out a distress signal early yesterday, the Danish warship Absalon sent a helicopter to confirm the presence of pirates, and communicated with the crew to ensure they were in a safe location, a spokesman for the EU Naval Force said.
Then Danish special forces aboard the Absalon approached the Ariella in dinghies. They scaled the side of the ship and freed the 25 crew, who had locked themselves in a secure room, the spokesman said. The forces continued to search the vessel for the pirates.
The spokesman praised the Nato forces for their fast reaction and co-ordination with other forces.
“There’s been many instances where there’s been excellent co-operation and three, four or even five nations have helped deter a pirate attack,” he said.
Warships typically do not intervene in hijackings because of the danger to the crews. Forces were able to intervene here because the ship had registered with naval authorities, was travelling along a recommended transit corridor and was part of a group transit, ensuring the ships had a helicopter within 30 minutes’ reaction time, the spokesman said.
The distress signal was picked up by an Indian warship Tbar. It relayed the signal to a French plane overhead. Then the Danish troops were notified.
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