Australia is joining in the fight against piracy, as it sends an Australian Navy warship as well as RAAF spy planes to the Horn of Africa. According to a report by Ian McPhedran on news.com.au, the Gulf-based Anzac Class frigate HMAS Warramunga and P3-C Orion maritime patrol aircraft will be re-tasked and will be available for anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.
The Australians will join the US-led multi-national Combined Task Force 151. They will be part of short-term counter-piracy missions against pirates who are attacking merchant ships and other sea vessels. While the recently-publicized bout with piracy by the ship Maersk Alabama did not entail the payment of a ransom, the feature shared that more than $150 million in ransom has been collected by pirates from ship owners.
The Australian warship joins warships from France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Turkey, the Netherlands and Singapore, all also part of Task Force 151. Warships from Russia and India also engage in anti-pirate patrol.
A large percentage of the world’s maritime trade, including the bulk of Middle Eastern oil shipment, passes through this maritime highway. The heavily armed pirates hijack private yachts as well as super tankers.
“Robust” rules of engagement will be given to the Australian sailors so that they can take down threats from pirates. Sailors from the Warramunga will be able to storm pirate vessels, confiscate arms and even detain pirates before turning them over to US or Kenyan authorities.
The Australian sailors, however, are not expected to participate in rescue missions. The Warramunga carries about 250 sailors, and there are 170 air force personnel who support the RAAF P-3 operations at an undisclosed airbase in the Gulf Region.
Rescue missions are to be conducted by teams of Navy SEALs aboard US warships, the most recent effort being the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips.