On the morning of Oct. 28, 2010, the tanker MV Hellespont Protector was attacked by a suspected pirate skiff in the Gulf of Aden.
The Liberian-flagged merchant vessel was transiting the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) when it was attacked by suspected pirates, who fired at the vessel with AK47 assault rifles.
Due to the large naval coalition presence within the region, HTMS Similan, from the Royal Thai Navy, was nearby to assist. The Fusu-class replenishment ship, currently supporting Combined Task Force 151, immediately launched its helicopter to investigate the skiff.
With the MV Hellespont Protector increasing its speed, the suspected pirates were unable to catch the merchant vessel and aborted their attack, dropping their weapons into the water in an attempt to escape. Within minutes, HTMS Similan’s boarding team apprehended the skiff. After taking records, the skiff was forced back to the Somali coast, and a warning of suspected pirate activity was issued to fishing boats and commercial ships in the region.
Commander Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), Turkish Rear Admiral Sinan Ertugrul stated, “The MV Hellespont Protector did the right thing by increasing its speed, as stated in the counter-piracy Best Management Practices. HTMS Similan proved yet again that coalition forces in the region are ready and fully capable to respond to emergency situations. We remain in the area as a genuine and legitimate force for good, providing maritime security to all lawful and legitimate seafarers. ”
CTF-151 was established in January 2009 as a multi-national counter-piracy task force. In conjunction with NATO and EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), ships from CTF-151 patrol in the Somali Basin and the IRTC in the Gulf of Aden. CTF-151 also supports the Best Management Practice methods which are promoted to the shipping industry for the avoidance of piracy.
CTF-151 is one of three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a global maritime partnership, dedicated to promoting security and prosperity across some 2.5 million square miles (6.5 square kilometres) of international waters in the Middle East. CMF’s main focus areas are countering terrorism, preventing piracy, reducing illegal activities, and promoting a safe maritime environment.