On 27 February 2013, during a patrol in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) the flagship of the EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia ‚Äì Operation Atalanta, ESPS M√©ndez N√∫nez, conducted a boarding of a vessel of interest.
The dhow Al-Hasan had been placed on a list of suspicious vessels after it was assessed to be related to pirate attacks on merchant vessels MV Agistri and MV Torm Kristina in the Gulf of Oman last December.
On 26 February, dhow Al-Hasan was shadowed by the NATO counter-piracy ship USS Nicholas as it departed the Northern Somali port of Bossasso. ¬†ESPS M√©ndez N√∫nez then continued to monitor the dhow until the early morning.¬† The flagship then launched her boarding team to search the Somali flagged dhow. ¬†Once on board , the officer leading the boarding team was told by the dhow‚Äôs Master that they had been taken hostage by seven pirates shortly after departing the port of Bossasso last year. ¬†The pirates then embarked one skiff and a powerful outboard motor, before forcing the crew to sail towards the Gulf of Oman. Once there the pirates used the dhow to stage unsuccessful attacks on both the MV Agistri and MV Torm Kristina. Afterwards, the pirates left the dhow.
Speaking about the boarding and the information gathered by the flagship, EU NAVFOR Force Commander, Rear Admiral Garc√≠a de Paredes, said: ‚ÄúThe outcome of the search conducted on board the dhow Al-Hasan by ESPS M√©ndez N√∫nez clearly shows that pirates are trying to continue their criminal activity at sea. ¬†I would like to warn all seafarers sailing through the High Risk Area that they cannot drop their guard, as pirates are still active and targeting shipping in the area. ¬†EU NAVFOR warships and aircraft will keep working hard with the other counter-piracy task forces in the area to make the seas off Somalia safer.‚Äù