Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Melbourne has disrupted a pirate attack on a tanker in the Arabian Sea.
HMAS Melbourne steamed to the aid of the UK-flagged chemical tanker MV CPO China, which had been boarded by pirates in the Arabian Sea at approximately 1.45pm Bahrain time on Monday, 3 January.
When initially alerted to the incident HMAS Melbourne was approximately 267kms north of the MV CPO China but was able to cover that distance in just over six hours.
The crew of MV CPO China had successfully secured themselves in the ship’s citadel (an anti-pirate stronghold) from where they could maintain satellite communications and control the ship. The engine controls and steering equipment for the tanker are located in the citadel.
While steaming to the aid of the MV CPO China, HMAS Melbourne’s helicopter launched and on arrival in the vicinity of MV CPO China was able to deter the pirates from attempting to take control of the ship. As a result the pirates aborted the attack and left the vessel when HMAS Melbourne arrived on the scene.
HMAS Melbourne’s boarding party embarked on Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs), and conducted a boarding of tanker CPO China to secure the vessel.
“This is a terrific example of how Australia’s maritime contribution to the Middle East Area of Operations provides another layer of security for the region and to the conduct of trade and suppression of criminal activities,” said the Commander of Joint Task Force 633, Major General John Cantwell.
“One of our objectives for operations in the Middle East is to assist the efforts of the international community in reducing acts of piracy. Our men and women aboard HMAS Melbourne deserve recognition for their role in providing maritime security and countering piracy in the Arabian Sea.
This is one of those occasions where their efforts have become highly visible,” he said.
Operation SLIPPER is Australia’s military contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, maritime security in the Middle East Area of Operations and countering piracy in the Gulf of Aden.