The pirates who have made the waters around Somalia the most dangerous in the world may not be having it all their own way soon, as Europe is on the brink of a joint air and sea operation to rid the seas of the gunmen.
30 ships have been hijacked this year, and 13 are still being held for ransom along with 200 sailors. France already has a warship on station. Now it is forming a battle group.
“This idea has received very wide support within the EU and nine members have said they’ll take part; Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Sweden, and probably the British who have said they’re open to the idea,” said Defence Minister Hervé Morin.
The United States currently leads the anti-piracy effort off the coast of the Horn of Africa, with the help of a French frigate and Spanish aircraft. The plan is to boost this to a three-frigate force, with three patrol craft and a support ship.
The idea is to go quickly says Morin, possibly as soon as EU defence ministers meet on the first of November where they will be asked to formally approve the deployment.
Britain says it agrees entirely with the mission, but wants co-ordination with the US. The Americans say they have prevented 12 attacks since May, but cannot do any more without help.