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Pirate rescue

April 5, 2010

A German container ship has been freed from pirates off the coast of Somalia. A Dutch frigate, part of the EU's Atalanta anti-piracy mission, recaptured the ship and arrested the pirates. The crew were unharmed.

A local man passes by the logo of the restaurant and bar named highlighting local piracy in Mombasa, Kenya, 12 April 2009.
Though piracy is on the increase, so is naval protectionImage: picture alliance / dpa

Dutch marines on Monday intervened to free a German container ship that had been attacked by pirates earlier in the day. The Dutch Defense Ministry and the EU's anti-piracy mission Atalanta have both confirmed the rescue.

The "MS Taipan" vessel was attacked roughly 500 nautical miles east of the coast of Somalia while en route from the Kenyan port city of Mombasa to Djibouti.

Dutch sailors from the "Tromp" frigate tried to negotiate a peaceful release, but when this failed they stormed the vessel and arrested 10 pirates. Dutch authorities reported that one of their sailors was injured in the fight, but none of the 15-strong crew were harmed.

Evasive action

Once the "Taipan's" crew realized they could not evade the pirates, they followed Atalanta's protocols for a ship in distress and thus managed to avoid injury and secure their rescue.

They immobilized the vessel by turning off all engines and machinery, radioed the warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden to call for help, and then locked themselves away in a secure part of the ship to await rescue. Two of the 15 crew members were German.

The EU's Atalanta mission off Somalia was launched in 2008 in response to a spike in pirate attacks on the key shipping lane. The current fleet comprises 15 warships and three aircraft patrolling the region, with France the biggest single contributor to the mission.

Editor: Rob Turner