NMS Note: This has been auto-translated by Google and some errors may remain.
The frigate Leopold I, a flagship of the Navy, set sail Tuesday from its base of Zeebrugge. The ship and its crew after attending last year at the European operation Atalanta fight against Somali piracy, will this time as destination the coast of Africa in the west and particularly the Gulf of Guinea for a period eight weeks.
This mission will have two components with the same purpose: to strengthen the capacity of African countries to ensure the safety of their territorial waters and the fight against piracy and numerous traffic.
The goal: improving maritime safety in the region through training, support and professionalisation of marine of Africa in the west and local coastguards. These marine, with very different means in the fight against illegal fishing, human beings and arms trafficking, drug trafficking and piracy.
The Gulf of Guinea has indeed become the new piracy center of gravity in Africa, largely contained in the east of the continent, thanks to the presence of several fleets of warships in the Indian Ocean , facing the Somali coast. Due to the limited resources of the riparian countries, often poor, the region is struggling to put in order of battle against the scourge of piracy.
In the first nine months of 2014, the Gulf of Guinea remained the African champion of piracy, with 33 recorded attacks – but down compared to the same period in 2013 (47) – against ten off Somalia , according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB). Number of cases not reported, however, beyond recognition.
Pirates operating off Nigeria , from Togo or Benin are generally well-armed and violent, according to the BMI. Sometimes they divert ships for several days, the time to loot the bunkers, and brutalize the crews, less and less inclined to navigate these waters.