The Galicias Ship Fight Against 21st Century Pirates In The Gulf Of Guinea

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The patrol boat Serviola, based in Ferrol, monitors, forms and fights against piracy, a growing phenomenon in the waters of the Gulf of Guinea. In less than a month they have attended two emergencies for attacks.

Freshly recovered from the shock of their last intervention, the crew of the patrol boat of the Spanish Armada Serviola, based in Ferrol, sail to the Senegalese capital, Dakar. Patrol in the Gulf of Guinea, scenario, increasingly, episodes featuring pirates, as confirmed by his Chief of Operations, Ferrolan Enrique Diaz Zuaza, 27 years.”Our main mission is not to intervene in the assaults on ships but rather on maritime surveillance tasks and above all, training”. But on May 5, they received a security warning from the Navy’s operations and maritime surveillance center in Cartagena. “They called us and told us that there were seven pirates assaulting a merchant ship with the flag of Malta one hundred miles from our position.”

A frigate from Equatorial Guinea also came to the area, which helped in the rescue. At the beginning, the information that we receive, tells Zuaza? It was confusing and even contradictory. We did not know if the pirates were still on board or not. ” The only thing they knew with certainty was that there were twenty people, of Russian and Latvian nationalities, sheltered in the panic room of the ship. “From that citadel they made calls for help but even they did not know what was going on outside.” Uncertainty that, in the case of Serviola, ended when, at the point, they established contact with the Guinean frigate, which confirmed the flight of the pirates. “Before our arrival, they tried to access the compartment in which the crew had hidden.

There were shots threatened by public address to the endowment so that it left but they did not obtain it. They came to make a hole in the door and fired inside the cabin but fortunately they did not hurt anyone . They did leave a trail behind them, in the form of “destruction of electronic equipment on the bridge”, in addition to “stealing material from the ship”. The reaction of the liberated? They were very happy about our presence.

It is the usual modus operandi of these pirates of the 21st century, who have now put their sights on this other area of ​​the African continent (in the waters of Somalia, kidnappings are common). “In southern Nigeria there are many oil platforms, which are the real target of the attacks. What moves them is to try to board ships that are near the platforms, and once they are on board, take someone as a hostage, and if not, steal what they find valuable, “says Zuaza. Until the documentation. “This time they took the passports of the entire crew.”

Fortunately, everything ended well but … What would have happened if, on the arrival of Serviola, the pirates were still there? “Well, without a doubt it would have been a much more complex operation, we would have to request an authorization from Spain to act, etc.”Two rounds in a month since they sailed from Ferrol on March 1, they have received “many warnings” of attacks or attempts. Without going any further, just one month ago they freed another merchant, of Nigerian flag, in their African deployment. A dozen crewmen were safe after four days held on board by nine pirates armed with AK-47s and grenade launchers. The Serviola detected that the ship followed atypical behavior patterns and that there was a small boat in its vicinity. “On this occasion, when we approached, the pirates were on board but fled as soon as they saw us arrive,” he recalls.

As such, there is no specialized device to combat this phenomenon in the Gulf of Guinea. “On the other side of Africa, in the Gulf of Aden, there are larger vessels, with special operations teams dedicated exclusively to operations against piracy,” explains Ferrol. “What we do is to train the navies of the coastal countries to train them against this type of problem. Bilateral cooperation.

In the Gulf of Guinea they will remain until the end of June, when four months of deployment are completed. Enrique Díaz Zuaza has been in Serviola for two years, patrolling in other areas such as the Alboran Sea, where they perform surveillance and maritime security tasks to control illicit trafficking, both drugs (from Morocco and to the peninsula) and people . Now that the good weather begins, we will see more boats safe. We have collaborated in several rescues with Maritime Rescue. It is a very delicate situation, “he confesses.

Trained at the Naval School of Marin, Enrique was clear from a young age that he wanted to dedicate himself to this. It’s something vocational. He who is here is because he likes it and I am very happy. His father is a merchant seaman. He is married, although he has no children “for now”.  About the time he spends outside the home, he says that “they are used to it because since we left school we did not stop from one place to another”.

The Galicias Ship Fight Against 21st Century Pirates In The Gulf Of Guinea

He is not the only Galician who watches over the interests of Spain on the high seas. “In total, we are 54 people aboard the patrol car, and as you can imagine, many, of Galicia, of course.”


Source: La Voz de Galicia