WITHIN the Gulf of Aden, piracy is a significant threat to the shipping community and a stricken Motor Vessel (MV) would make easy prey.  When a MV recently suffered engine failure and lost all propulsion in the region, a Japanese maritime patrol aircraft and warships from South Korea, China, India, Italy and Japan were quick to provide coordinated assistance and protection to avoid any risk to the vessel and her crew.

To ensure merchant ships sail through this region safely, an International Recognised Transit Corridor (IRTC) has been established under the protection of warships from Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), EU, NATO and other independent deployers from India, China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.

The stricken motor vessel at sea in the Gulf of Aden
The stricken motor vessel at sea in the Gulf of Aden

ROKS Wang Geon as the closest warship to the stricken MV was first on the scene.  ROKS Wang Geon is currently operating under the Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, whose mission is to deter, disrupt and thwart acts of piracy.

This multinational task force conducts counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea and would always respond to environmental and humanitarian crises including Safety of Life at Sea emergencies.

ROKS Wang Geon provided maritime protection whilst technical specialists from her crew carried out repairs to the defective engine.  Once able to move under her own power, albeit at a slower pace than normal, the MV was escorted safely through the IRTC.  Escort duties where handed over to ITS Zeffiro, who later handed over the responsibility to PLAN Hengshui, who escorted the MV safely into the port of Aden, Yemen.

Captain Young-Hee Han, Commanding Officer ROKS Wang Geon, said, “With regard to the support we were able to offer the MV, it was the active collaboration and information sharing amongst CMF and other coalition forces that coordinated the effort to escort the motor vessel to her next destination. I believe that this occasion served as an opportunity to strengthen further the friendly relations amongst coalition forces operating in this maritime domain.”

The Commanding Officer from the MV said, “All my crew would like to thank you for your swift response, best intentions and hugely appreciated escort and also the excellent support whilst we were repairing the engine.”

He added “We take this opportunity to thank you for your assistance during the incident.”

Commodore Keith Blount, Royal Navy, Deputy Commander Combined Maritime Forces, said, “A few years ago that stricken vessel would have been an easy victim for piracy.  It is through the close coordination of warships and military aircraft from CMF, EU, and NATO, together with the independent deployers and industry, that we have provided an enduring presence in the region and ensured that the maritime environment is a much safer place for mariners to conduct their legitimate business.”