Nairobi - The European Union's anti-piracy military force will become
more proactive in the fight against pirates, the departing force
commander said on Tuesday, in an effort to seize the initiative in an
evolving battle that is moving closer to land.
The EU Naval Force
announced last month that it will expand its mission to include
Somalia's coast and waterways inside the country for the first time.
Rear Adm. Jorge Manso, whose tenure as force commander ends Saturday,
said the EU force's mission is evolving.
"To date our approach
has been primarily defensive, but from now on we have to become more
flexible in our priorities and practices and seize the initiative from
pirates," Manso told The Associated Press by telephone from the Spanish
military ship Patino. "Doing that we will improve our capabilities
against this problem."
Manso said the EU Naval Force is looking
for "different missions," though he did not elaborate about any missions
that could take place on Somali land or on its waterways.
way to be more proactive," he said. "The European Union right now is on
the right path. This measure is one more tool to create the security
that Somalia needs."
Manso said that in coming days the EU would
change the naval force's rules of engagement to encompass the recently
expanded rules. "We want to do more, different things," he said.
attacks rise and fall with the cycle of East Africa's monsoons. The
monsoon season is coming to an end now and pirate activity will likely
France takes over the rotating command of the EU Naval
Force this Saturday and is bringing powerful new equipment to aid the
The French amphibious assault ship the FS
Dixmude - France's newest warship - is capable of acting as a seaborne
mobile operating base for up to 16 helicopters. The frigate FS Georges
Leygues is also now in the region. It carries two Lynx helicopters.
last month a French Navy maritime surveillance aircraft began
patrolling pirate-infested waters. The plane will help guide naval ships
to suspect vessels.
"The new force commander, the French
admiral, he will have a lot of opportunities to do a lot of things with
the numbers of ships and aircrafts that he will have under his command,"
Manso said, referring to French Rear Adm. Jean-Baptiste Dupois.
said attacks at sea during his four-month rotation dropped compared to
the same period the previous year. On a year-over-year basis, he said,
hijackings were reduced to five from 28. Pirate attacks dropped from 58
to 18, he said.
The International Maritime Bureau said Somali
pirates accounted for 54% of all pirate attacks in 2011, with 237
attacks, up from 219 in 2010.
"We are applying constant pressure
along the Somali coast in order to avoid the pirates reaching the high
seas," Manso said. "Another important point is that some regional
authorities are applying pressure on land against pirate camps. There
are also some disputes among different clans in order to arrange the
Regional authorities was a reference to the northern Somali regions of Puntland and Somaliland.
pirates are under pressure and looking for other ways to make money,
Manso said. Typically they adapt their tactics when under pressure, but
this time may be boxed in, he said. The EU is helping provide security
and development in Somalia and in the coming months will launch a new
civil mission to increase Somali capabilities, he said.