According to Denmark’s Defence Command, Danish military forces on an anti-piracy mission killed four pirates in a gun battle in the Gulf of Guinea this week.
The military soldiers are on board the Danish frigate Esbern Snare, which is now deployed to the Gulf of Guinea for a six-month deployment to assist in the worldwide fight against piracy. The frigate, which is equipped with a helicopter, set sail from Naval Base Frederikshavn in October with about 175 people on board, including the permanent crew, military police, a larger medical team, and a detachment of naval special forces.
The frigate’s crew was alerted to indications of an elevated risk of piracy in waters south of Nigeria on Wednesday, according to the Defence Command bulletin, and the ship’s Seahawk helicopter was dispatched to monitor the area. The helicopter crew arrived on the scene and discovered “a fast-moving motor boat” with eight suspected pirates in an area with a number of cargo ships.
Esbern Snare eventually got close enough to dispatch a military crew on a RHIB to board the pirate ship.
“Esbern Snare” signaled the pirates to come to a halt so the Danish soldiers could board. When the pirates did not retaliate, the Danish forces used their powers to fire warning shots. After that, the pirates opened fire on the Danish forces. The Danish soldiers subsequently acted in self-defense and retaliated against the pirates’ fire, according to the update.
A brief firefight ensued and resulted in five pirates being hit, four of whom died. No Danish soldiers were injured.
All eight pirates, including the deceased, were taken on board the Esbern Snare where the injured was treated for his injuries.
“The inter-ministerial working group will deal with what should happen to the pirates,” the update said.
Piracy and armed robbery against ships and crew kidnappings continue to be a global hotspot in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Esbern Snare’s deployment comes after Denmark said in March that it would send a frigate to the region in response to a plea by Danish shipping conglomerate A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S and maritime industry associations for a more coordinated international response. On any given day, up to 40 Danish-operated ships operate in the region, transporting approximately $1.5 billion in goods.
The mission is Denmark’s first anti-piracy mission since it left the Horn of Africa in 2008, where it operated from 2008 to 2017.