[NMS Note: Apologies for any inconsistencies in this story: it was translated via Google Translate]
The maritime patrol aircraft P-3 Orion that the Air Force has deployed to Djibouti as part of the EU Operation Atalanta has identified and monitored maintains a total of 50 bases of pirates off the coast of Somalia, from positions attacks are launched against fishing and cargo vessels plying the waters of this part of the Indian Ocean.¬†The aircraft has flown on numerous occasions the coast of the Horn of Africa with their crews watch for any signs that might reveal the position of the bases and photographically documented many of these sites.¬†In one of the images obtained recently seen several skiffs on the beach and looks like near accumulate petrol cans, weapons and ammunition.¬†The current head of Orion Detachment, Lieutenant Colonel Jos√© Manuel Cuesta, notes that some of these sites identified are temporary, while others are activated by pirates if necessary.
But of the 50 bases located, ten are permanent and are the nerve centers of planning and supply of pirates.¬†The lieutenant Angosto Francisco Lopez, head of mission of the P-3 Orion aircraft, explained that among the ten permanent enclaves highlights a particular base, a pirate sanctuary which concentrates the bulk of the activity against which to short distance offshore, are the only two boats moored at present are in the hands of Somali pirates: the Nahan3 and Albedo, with about 60 sailors kidnapped.¬†One member of the detachment Orion emphasizes that in this population have risen in recent years some houses that could be considered luxurious by the standards of Somalia, some buildings would have been built with the ransom money.¬†All this intelligence provided by the P-3 Orion aircraft is highly valued by the command of Operation Atalanta.Photographs taken by the Spanish apparatus for determining the capabilities of the pirates and anticipate future attacks.
A PILLAR OF MISSION
The Orion Detachment, consisting of 50 soldiers, has become one of the main pillars of the EU mission in the Indian Ocean and is the only element involved in the operation from day one, back in January 2009.¬†Has done in these past four years a total of 630 missions and 4,654 flight hours, with a maximum of 100 per month.¬†Lieutenant Colonel Cuesta indicates that in addition to intelligence work, the team is responsible along with aircraft from other countries to monitor the maritime corridor recommended Gulf of Aden, the waterway linking the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean through the Suez Canal.¬†This is a very important economic route since it is transported by the 40 percent of world oil.Another fundamental functions of P-3 Orion aircraft, which is sometimes replaced by the Delta-4, with similar characteristics, is to locate suspicious boats in the Indian Ocean and come to the aid of vessels attacked by pirates.¬†With all this authority, both Lieutenant Lopez as Lieutenant Colonel Angosto Cuesta highlight the enormity of the “game board” in which the Spanish plane moves across the Indian Ocean.¬†The unit covers an area the size of Europe operations and missions can be up to 12 hours flying.¬†This responsibility will be increased soon as the German P-3 aircraft shared the duties of the Spanish Air Force in Djibouti will return to Europe in early May.
PHOTOGRAPHS against pirates
The aircraft that have Spanish Armed Forces in Djibouti, despite having already served 47 years, is equipped with the latest technology in terms of recognition, location and maritime surveillance.¬†Among these elements highlights the Flir camera, a powerful recording that allows imaging in both video and infrared.Captain Manuel Moreno, aircraft commander, explained that their missions at sea, the crew uses this Flir infrared camera, which has a range of up to 15 miles, which determines, for example, if your goal is a fishing boat or a pirate skiff and know if they are armed.¬†If there is a great danger, the aircraft is approaching and begins the work of photographers who use telephoto lenses to capture from a special window of the cab several images of the boat, even from nearly a thousand feet high.¬†And, despite all the cutting-edge technology with which it is equipped, the most prized of the plane is a conventional camera.¬†”It’s a digital camera that you can buy on the street,” said Lt. Col. Cuesta.¬†The images obtained are immediately transferred to a laptop and are analyzed by the photographer, who has received special training to interpret and instantly recognize elements that may clarify the nature of the craft and its occupants.Wanted in pictures guns, scales, fish, tackle …¬†anything that can determine whether they are pirates or simple fishermen.¬†These images are transmitted in near real time in command of Operation Atalanta.¬†If there is a real risk, a notice
the merchants who are in the area and may be in danger and orders the nearest naval unit to intercept the vessel.
A hunting submarines
Captain Moreno explained that the P-3 Orion aircraft are actually were conceived and designed to detect and combat submarines during the Cold War.It is now often used for maritime surveillance tasks such as tracking vessels traffickers or immigration control trying to reach Spain in a canoe.¬†Despite being a device that will soon meet the 50 years of life, all hands, that rotate every two months, are proud of the aircraft, of which Spain has seven units, although currently only two are operational.¬†These airplanes, as deployed in Djibouti, have an adjoining room consoles cockpit.¬†In this section five screens are installed with their corresponding controls used to operate the camera Flir, view all the images, control the sea and air traffic, communicate with and coordinate the mission ships.¬†Instead of bombs, the appliance is in the hold of a lifeboat weapons that can be launched into the sea to rescue people.¬†The Narrow Lieutenant Lopez explains that one of the resources, based on ingenuity, have devised for cases in which they are forced to stop a pirate attack is to use the boats they have in smoke launch ramps where normally are installed ‘sonobuoys’ to detect submarines.¬†The plane made a quick pass and drop the canisters.¬†The pirates believe they are being attacked and often abscond.