June 23, 2009 —
Portuguese Navy Special Forces intercept a skiff filled with eight Somali pirates threatening a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden June 22.
NRP CORTE-REAL, Gulf of Aden (June 22, 2009) – A NATO operation conducted by the Portuguese frigate NRP Corte-Real resulted in the disruption of an attempted pirate attack and the boarding of a confirmed pirate vessel, leading to the seizure and disposal of weapons as well as the disruption of the pirates’ ability to conduct further attacks.
Monday at about 10 a.m. local time, a skiff filled with eight Somali pirates armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 assault rifles were caught in a high-speed chase by NATO’s Portuguese warship NRP Corte-Real after attacking the Singapore-flagged MV Maersk Phoenix.
“We are under a pirate attack, we are under fire,” MV Maersk Phoenix broadcasted for assistance as it traveled west through the world’s most dangerous shipping lane, 145 nautical miles north-northeast of Boossaso, Somalia.
NRP Corte-Real, the closest NATO vessel, was escorting a Pakistani flagged severe-risk vessel and had to hand it over to a nearby Coalition Turkish warship before rendering assistance.
After a half-hour, high-speed pursuit, the Portuguese frigate intercepted the pirate skiff and boarded her. Warning shots, first into the air and then across the skiff’s bow, were fired as loudhailers commanded the Somalis to stop.
The boarding operation by Portuguese Navy Special Forces was conducted using one RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) with standoff support from NRP Corte-Real. After a detailed search, four AK-47 rifles, one RPG launcher with three grenades, several ammunition magazines and two ladders were found on board.