Frigate intervenes in pirate attack
A frigate based at CFB Esquimalt, now patrolling near Somalia off the Horn of Africa, saved a commercial vessel from a pirate attack yesterday.
Crew on HMCS Calgary received a distress call yesterday morning from a vessel that had fallen under small arms fire. As the warship changed its direction and sped toward the attackers, the ship’s Sea King helicopter was redirected toward the pirates to gather information, the Department of Defence said in a release.
The Calgary left Esquimalt on April 13, along with three other warships, for multimonth deployments around the world.
When the helicopter arrived, crews spotted two small boats that appeared to be armed near the vessel in the Gulf of Aden, about 120 kilometres off the coast of Somalia.
“I am convinced that the presence of our aircraft drove them away from the traffic lanes and prevented any further attack today on merchant shipping in the area,” said Cmdr. Kelly Larkin, commanding officer of the multi-purpose frigate.
“We continued to monitor those two skiffs and their crew as they were heading back toward Somalia territorial waters.”
The Gulf of Aden has been a hot spot for pirate attacks recently.
The International Maritime Bureau, which works to make shipping safer around the world, has issued a “piracy alert” about the area.
“Six attacks, including two hijackings, have been reported by vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden” since May 19, says the alert. “Pirates are firing automatic weapons and rocketpropelled grenades in an attempt to board and hijack vessels.”
“Pirates are believed to be using ‘mother vessels’ to launch attacks at very far distances from the coast. These ‘mother vessels’ are able to proceed to very far out to sea to launch smaller boats to attack and hijack passing ships,” the bureau says.
HMCS Calgary is one of three Canadian warships participating in Operation ALTAIR, Canada’s maritime contribution to the campaign against terrorism.
Ships assigned to the operation work in the North Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Gulf of Aden, and parts of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, where they work alongside allied and regional nations, building security and stability by monitoring shipping, and countering terrorist activity.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Canadian navy has sent 22 ships to the Gulf, many of which have come from the headquarters of the Pacific Fleet at CFB Esquimalt.