Muscat: The decline in piracy in the last six months could be a lull before the storm, according to a naval chief.
“In the last year to six months, piracy attacks have reduced,” European Naval Force Commander, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, said on Tuesday during a media briefing on board Italian warship ITS San Giusto, which is anchored at the Sultan Qaboos Port in Muscat.
He said that it was a technical success. “The key word is to try and stabilise the area,” the Italian Naval officer believes.
“We (EU NAVFORCE) are part of the process,” he said referring to the operation to deter piracy in the area.
However, while he agreed that piracy attacks had reduced in recent times, he warned: “Starting from October, the pirates are expected to come out.”
Credendino, who commands six ships and five aircraft in EU NAVFOR’s Operation Atlanta in Gulf of Aden, conceded that tackling Somali pirates on the ground was as crucial as at sea, but “our mandate is at sea”, he pointed out.
However, he also said the new Somali President, Hassan Al Shaikh Mahmoud, has declared war on pirates in his country. “He will be crucial to the war against pirates, we will take care of pirates on territorial waters and police and security agencies take care on land.”
The leader also supports posting armed guards on board merchant ships. “There has been no successful attack on merchant ships carrying armed guards on board their vessels,” he revealed, stressing that pirates have been unsuccessful against armed guards.
“Oman is a key state in the region, in particular Salalah,” the Italian Naval officer said, praising cooperation from the Sultanate’s authorities in taking on pirates. “The Omani authorities are very active in exchanging information,” he revealed.
He also said that cooperation between three major forces – NAV FOR, NATO and Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) was excellent in carrying out the anti-piracy campaign. “There are other nations like Japan, China, South Korea and India patrolling the area to escort their vessels and cooperation with these forces has also been good,” said Rear Admiral Credendino.
In reply to a question about the end date of EU NAVFOR’s Operation Atlanta in 2014, the Force Commander said that the end date was not important but the end stage was. “We need to stay here as long as they (pirates) can come out.”