Dhows have for centuries been sailing the coastlines of Africa and the Middle East, for fishing and for transport. But today's dhow crews are just as vulnerable to the attacks of Somali pirates as the yachts and cargo ships of the Western World. Unlike the rest of us, they depend completely on these waters.
Traditional form of transport for centuries - the dhow
So there is always great joy when the crew of a dhow is freed by the efforts of the coalition and EU forces in the Indian Ocean.
On April 19, 15:00, Yemen local time, the commanding officer of Spanish warship, ESPS Reina Sofía, who is currently operating as part of the EU’s counter-piracy mission off Somalia – Operation Atalanta, wished 'fair winds and following seas' to the master of the freed Yemeni dhow minutes before it was escorted safely to the Yemeni authorities.
The Yemeni dhow had been released from pirates by Spanish frigate Reina Sofia sailors on Sunday 15 April after a co-ordinated operation by a French Air Force Awacs E3F aircraft, French warship Dixmude and an Australian maritime patrol aircraft.
The dhow was accompanied by the Spanish frigate to the limits of Yemeni territorial waters and handed over to the Yemeni coastguards, who then escorted the freed fishermen in to port.
The owner of the dhow, who was present at the handover, was very pleased to have his crew and boat back safe and sound, and he reassured the happy crew that in a few days’ time they could continue their fishing activities in the area.
The handover of the Yemeni dhow to the Yemeni authorities is a good example of the good cooperation and coordination of EU Naval Forces with the regional countries’ navies and coast guards.
EU Navfor Atalanta:
EU NAVFOR - ATALANTA conducts counter-piracy in the Indian Ocean and is responsible for the protection of World Food Program ships carrying humanitarian aid for the people of Somalia and the logistic support vessels of the African Union troops conducting Peace Support Operations in Somalia. Additionally, EU NAVFOR monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia