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Somali Pirates Getting Shot?

European Union commits to helping the Seychelles to fight piracy

Alain St. Ange, eTN Ambassador  Sep 01, 2009

The European Union’s Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) has now confirmed that it will station two Swearingam Merlin 3 aircraft in Mahe, in the Seychelles, to help combat the region’s ongoing piracy problem.

The Swearingam Merlin 3 aircraft are provided by the Luxembourg government from CAE Aviation, a company specializing in airborne observation work. The two aircraft will conduct anti-piracy patrols supporting the EU’s “Operation ATALANTA” and will deploy to the Seychelles this month in time for passing of the South East monsoon when calmer seas are expected.

The two aircraft are equipped with a search radar and an Electro Optic Turret, which will give them the ability to detect and image pirate craft by day and night. With the ability to cruise at a higher speed to the search area and loiter there for prolonged periods (3-4 hours) the aircraft will prove a valuable tool in the fight against piracy. A team of aircrew and technicians will deploy with the aircraft.

The Air Wing of the Seychelles Coast Guard has said it will continue to patrol Seychelles EEZ and will work closely with the EU NAVFOR team. During the deployment, the company will also carry out some training of Coast Guard personnel in the operation of the Electro Optic systems. It is hoped that the Seychelles Coast Guard personnel will also, on an occasional basis, conduct flights with the EU aircraft, thus improving the working relationship between the EU and the Seychelles Coast guard still further.

“Operation ATALANTA” is the first ever EU commanded naval force and was deployed in Nov 08 to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia.

The agreement to station the EU aircraft in the Seychelles comes following ongoing talks between the British High Commission and French Embassy representing the EU and the Seychelles High Level Committee on Piracy. Talks about further cooperation are continuing.

British High Commissioner Matthew Forbes said: “The risk of further piracy attacks close to the Seychelles is real and the use of maritime patrol aircraft is an important tool to counter this threat. This deployment is an important signal of the European Union’s commitment to working with the Seychelles government to deter pirates from threatening our joint interests.”

European Union commits to helping the Seychelles to fight piracy
The Swearingam Merlin 3 (eTN stock photo)

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