On 22nd September, whilst conducting Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions in the Gulf of Aden, Japanese Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPRA), JN41, detected an un unknown flagged skiff named Al Faroq with three armed persons on-board and reported this to Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) at their headquarters in Bahrain. Upon becoming aware of being detected by the MPRA, the skiff tried to escape with maximum speed. However, JN41 was not only able to keep monitoring and tracking the skiff, but gave reported visual sightings of weapons on-board the skiff.
The closest ship to the area was a Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 asset, Japanese warship JS Amagiri. CTF 151 immediately tasked her to proceed toward the skiff with best speed together with another Japanese MPRA, JN42, taking off from Deployment Air-Force for Counter-Piracy Enforcement (DAPE) based in Djibouti.
While CTF 151 assets kept tracking and monitoring the skiff, constantly providing situational awareness and real time reporting, European Union Naval Forces (EU NAVFOR) were informed about the incident by CMF and supported the operation with their Spanish MPRA, CISNE. Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) were also able to provide information and a communication link via mercury radio to shipping in the area.Meanwhile, Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland authorities, and U.N. Somalia/Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) were informed by EU NAVFOR when the skiff entered the territorial waters of Puntland. The skiff was subsequently captured by Puntland Maritime Police Forces (PMPF) authorities in coastal waters.
PMPF authorities confirmed anti-aircraft machine guns, AK-47 rifles, pistols and dozens of boxes of ammunition were found in the skiff.
This successful, multi-organisation operation, demonstrated the close and efficient cooperation between CMF, EU NAVFOR, associated surface and airbourne assets, and Puntland authorities against any threats to maritime security including that posed by arms smuggling.