Devonport-based HMS Portland intercepts as armed men prepare for a suspected pirate attack

Marines from the Royal Navy frigate HMS Portland moved in as a group of men prepared for a suspected pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia, on Tuesday.

Suspicions were aroused when HMS Portland’s crew detected two skiffs by radar, which did not appear to be just fishing vessels. Working with a Spanish maritime patrol aircraft, as part of the Combined Maritime Forces Task Force 151 – a multinational naval group established to fight piracy – the frigate approached the skiffs for a closer inspection.

Royal Marines moved in on RIBs after they spied weapons and ammunition on board, including rocket-propelled grenades. However, they were later forced to release the group of 10 men due to insufficient evidence directly linking them to a pirate attack. The men were disarmed and HMS Portland destroyed the smaller skiff, along with her 30mm guns and machine guns, before sending them on their way.

Commodore Tim Lowe, deputy commander of the Combined Maritime Forces, said, “This international collaboration cannot be understated and, as more countries join the fight, we will continue to work together to help deter, disrupt and thwart criminal acts of piracy in the maritime environment.”

Credit: LA(Phot) Alex Cave/Crown Copyright