On December 15th, the frigate from the Naval Component of the Belgian Armed Forces, the Louise-Marie, captured five suspected pirates. The ship was operating in the Indian Ocean as part of the European Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) Operation Atalanta, aimed at combating piracy in this vital stretch of ocean.
The ship was en route to a possible pirate hideout when a Swedish maritime patrol aircraft located a small skiff on December 12th. The Louise-Marie was assigned to perform a search of the area in an attempt to locate these possible pirates.
A few days later, the same patrol aircraft re-located the skiff. Next, the Louise-Marie sent one of her own helicopters to trail the skiff, as the ship herself followed closely and a boarding party was readied.
Fortunately there was no difficulty in taking control of the pirates and their skiff. After the ship issued verbal warnings, the crew immediately surrendered. The boarding party encountered no resistance and was able to take the five suspected pirates into detention without incident. The skiff was stocked with a ladder and a boarding hook, indicating that the vessel may have been used, or was planning to be used for pirate activity.
The five pirates are being held on the ship as authorities collect further evidence and question the suspects as per the investigation. The pirates themselves were not in very good shape. They were all treated for symptoms of dehydration and malnourishment, and one man also received care for a wrist wound.
While the action was success in that it potentially took five more pirates out of play, it is also encouraging that the ship was able to help the pirates themselves, who are often found in less-than-perfect physical condition, having been driven to piracy because of poverty and starvation.