RFA Fort Victoria, a supply ship to the Royal Navy, has foiled an attempt by pirates to attack cargo ships in the Indian Ocean.
On Tuesday, Somali pirates who have been holding Greek-owned chemical tanker Liquid Velvet to ransom since last November, attempted to sail the ship into international waters in a bid to launch further attacks on other vessels.
Yet RFA Fort Victoria, which has Royal Navy Force Protection personnel on board, cut off Liquid Velvet’s progress after she had reached 90 miles from the coastline – forcing her to return to Somalia.
Fort Victoria repeatedly circled the mothership to push her back and also sent up her Lynx helicopter as both a deterrent and to assess the situation on board.
Once Liquid Velvet had returned to her anchorage RFA Fort Victoria stayed in the immediate area to ensure the pirates, who were armed with machine guns and rifles, did not make another attempt to sail out.
Captain Gerry Northwood, Royal Navy, commander of the UK’s counter-piracy taskforce, said:
“Once the pirates were stopped there was never a chance that they were going to achieve anything as we could take down any efforts they made.
“This was a potential mothership in terms of it having enough pirate paraphernalia on board to launch attacks on other ships in the area. We have been putting the pirates under a lot of pressure by taking down their dhow action groups so they are starting to get desperate.
“It was a risky decision to sail Liquid Velvet out as it is currently in the latter stages of ransom negotiation. While it is a good platform for them to cover a lot of ground to find another mothership, if they were to lose the ship to us then they would be out of pocket in a big way.
“This was a very successful operation – if we had not intercepted Liquid Velvet when we had, then these pirates would have posed a very real threat to international shipping in the Indian Ocean.”
World Maritime News Staff, January 13, 2012; Image: RoyalNavy