Coast guard ‘better prepared than ever’ to protect our territory-Local forces hold 11 more in action against pirates


05-May-2009

The Andromache with its crew shortly after arrival at the coast guard jetty on Sunday evening

The arrests were made near Marianne island yesterday afternoon after the police received reports of three small boats in the area. A helicopter was immediately dispatched and coordinated the operation from the air.

A Seychelles Coast Guard vessel then intercepted the boats and police officers on board arrested the 11 men.
The incident came shortly after Major Simon Laurencine of the coast guard said in an interview the force is better prepared than ever to protect our territorial waters, making them safe for any boat without fear of attack.

He was speaking after the patrol boat Andromache brought in three suspected pirates, arrested on Saturday during an operation carried out in collaboration with the European Union naval operation Atalanta.

Giving the details of yesterday’s arrests, Captain Jean Attala, incident operations officer of the Seychelles Coast Guard, said weapons were not found on board the vessel but bullet cartridges were.

It is thought the three boats had become separated from their mother ship, and the crews were disorientated and trying to find their way back to Somalia.

“It is evident that the recent anti-piracy operations in the western Indian Ocean have scattered the small pirate boats from their mother ships, and some have drifted into Seychelles’ waters,” said Captain Attala.

On Saturday, the coast guard arrested three suspected pirates in the north-western region of Seychelles’ 1.3 million square kilometre exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which borders Somali waters.

The Andromache was alerted to reports of a Somali boat in the area by French naval ship the Nivôse, part of operation Atalanta.

One of the suspected pirates is escorted off the Andromache to be handed over to the policeChief of the SPDF Brigadier Leopold Payet and Police Commissioner Ernest Quatre were at the coast guard jetty to welcome the patrol boat and its crew.

The three suspected pirates were handed over to the police and later had medical examinations.
Major Laurencine – the officer in charge of the operation – said they reached the given location on Friday and managed to track down the boat, a six-metre skiff, after a brief search.

He said the three men – who identified themselves as Somalis – were unarmed at the time of arrest and did not put up any resistance.

Major Laurencine added that in the boat there were seven barrels of fuel and two barrels of water, which were taken on to the Andromache to ease transport. He said apart from personal items, buoys and lifejackets carrying the names of other ships were also found on the skiff.

At the time of interception, the Andromache was alone and far from the other patrol boats.
Maj Laurencine said the coast guard is making every effort to safeguard our waters and prevent acts of piracy. It is coordinating well with the EU naval forces and the joint work has been very fruitful so far.

“As the naval force of the country, to protect our exclusive economic zone remains the coast guard’s duty,” he added.
Major Laurencine also said before any operations, members of the force are well briefed and are gaining more experience each time they take part in an operation. This boosts their confidence and helps them carry out their duties better.

During every operation, all necessary steps are taken to ensure the safety of all personnel, he stressed.
Mr Quatre said the three suspected pirates arrested on Saturday will be dealt with fairly, and investigations have already started. He explained that police officers were already on board the Andromache at the time of the arrest.

Regarding the nine other Somalis arrested last week, he said the investigation is progressing, but the work is being slowed by communication problems.

Mr Quatre explained that some of the Somalis use dialects that cannot be translated easily, and the police are still looking for translators.

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