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Danish contributions to Counter-Piracy missions

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The Danish ocean patrol vessel THETIS during the deployment to the Horn of Africa
The Danish ocean patrol vessel THETIS during the deployment to the Horn of Africa

Danish contributions to Counter-Piracy missions 

Since 2008, when the threat of piracy in East Africa was at its highest, Denmark has made significant contributions to international efforts to counter piracy and enhance maritime safety off the coast of the Horn of Africa.

The reason for the Danish counter piracy efforts is that Denmark, as a major maritime nation, has a particular interest in combating piracy. It is an important foreign policy priority for Denmark to contribute to strengthening maritime security for civilian shipping in exposed areas.

In addition to the military efforts through the deployment of naval vessels in the area, the management of maritime counter piracy operations and the deployment of staff officers, Denmark is also contributing to solving the underlying causes of piracy by supporting capacity building in East and West Africa.

The successful Danish comprehensive approach includes - besides the Ministry of Defence - a number of Danish authorities, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Business and Growth and the cooperation with the maritime industry. Accordingly, Denmark has contributed to the decline in the number of pirate attacks from 223 in 2011 to the latest confirmed pirate attack, which took place in January 2014. This led the Danish Defence Intelligence Service to conclude that piracy off the coast of the Horn of Africa had stopped. Recently we have seen a couple of hijackings in the area. It is, however, too soon to conclude if it is a trend or more isolated events, but the situation is continuously monitored.

The current Danish counter piracy efforts are also directed towards the Gulf of Guinea on Africa's west coast. In recent years, armed robbery at sea has been a matter of increasing concern. The area is part of the Government's strategy for the Danish efforts to counter piracy and armed robbery at sea for the period 2015-2018.

Danish initiatives to counter piracy are founded in the Danish strategy for measures against piracy 2015-2018. The strategy is translated into English.

The military efforts
In 2007 off the coast of the Horn of Africa, pirates attempted to hijack three ships from the United Nations World Food Programme carrying emergency aid to Somalia and as a result France decided in November, the same year, to escort vessels carrying emergency aid. In 2008, as by request from France, Denmark took over the task of escorting vessels. The Danish ocean patrol vessel THETIS escorted a total of four UNWFP vessels during its deployment and thus shielded them from exposure to hijacking attempts by pirates. The vessels had a total load of more than 20,000 tons of emergency aid. This type of effort was the launch of the Danish Defence’s longstanding efforts to strengthen security for civilian vessels off the coast of the Horn of Africa.

During the period 2008-2015, the Danish Navy has several times contributed with vessels to the multinational maritime coalition force Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), the Task Forces 150 and 151 as well as to NATO's counter piracy operation Ocean Shield. Furthermore, Denmark has periodically assumed command of Operation Ocean Shield and CMF Task Force 151.

In addition to the contribution of vessels, the Danish Defence has since 2011 regularly deployed a Challenger maritime patrol aircraft to monitor the coast of Somalia. The latest Challenger contribution was deployed from October to November 2016.

Capacity building in East Africa
Alongside the more operational effort, Denmark has considered the building of local capacity to be a top priority. In East Africa Denmark continues to contribute with capacity building in order to prevent piracy from remerging and accordingly countries in the region are better prepared to solve security challenges in the region. The Danish efforts include bilateral cooperation with the Kenyan Navy where the Danish Defence has deployed a maritime advisor and support to UNODC's maritime mentor programme in Somalia, which aims at strengthening maritime and legal capacity in the Horn of Africa in collaboration with the Somali authorities in Somaliland, Puntland and Mogadishu. Finally, Denmark has on the continental level during the period 2012-2016 also supported the African Union (AU) with the preparation and initial implementation of a maritime strategy through the deployment of a maritime advisor to the AU’s headquarter in Addis Ababa.

The Danish Defence’s efforts in the Gulf of Guinea
While the majority of attacks off the Horn of Africa took place in international waters, the majority of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea takes place within the territorial sea of the countries. This means that attacks within the territorial sea of the countries are first and foremost a national and regional matter requiring regional and national efforts.

The Danish Defence’s efforts are therefore primarily directed towards capacity building of local security forces. Among others, the Danish Special Forces have started a pilot project where partner units from Nigeria and Cameroun are trained in order to strengthen their ability to counter piracy and other crimes at sea. In 2017, for the first time ever, Denmark has posted a Defense Attaché to Nigeria.

Here you can read more about the efforts in West Africa

This article in Danish
Last updated 2017-08-22 - 10:43

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