Danish Warship Absalon is a Nightmare to Somali Pirates

by OldSailor on September 23, 2008


Absalon_L16_1 arrest1 pirates1

Danish Warship Absalon(L16) has become a nightmare to Somali pirates. The Command and Support Ship Absalon left Frederikshavn on August 17 to join Combined Task Force 150 in the Gulf of Aden. The New Zonka Blog gives the details of departure.

Here are some interesting activities of Absalon in the Gulf of Aden:

  • During the first week of September Absalon reached the area and was meticulously carrying out her task in chasing the pirates of Somalia with her armed Lynx helicopter.
  • On September 17, Absalon captured ten pirates in two speed boats. Weapons used by pirates like handguns, automatic rifles and rocket launchers along with boarding ladders were seized.
  • On September 20, again Absalon chased three pirate boats and successfully caught two boats loaded with rocket launchers and a large number of handguns. The weapons were seized and this time the pirates and the boats were released. The reason for leaving the pirates and their boats may be purely legal issues to deal with pirates.

Here are the photographs of weapons seized by Absalon available at Danish Fleet website:



Here is a photograph of Absalon (L16) from Danish Fleet website.


More details about Absalon is available here at Danish Naval History.

Here is an interesting video clip of Absalon.

Press release in Danish language on Absalon is here at Danish Fleet website. English news report on Absalon is here at Shipping Gazette.

Update: September 24

What to do with the captured Somali pirates ?

It seems that Warship Absalon has no specific instructions on how to proceed with the ten pirates captured on September 17. The Shipping Gazette news dated September 23 reports that there are three options for Absalon.

Option 1: to take the pirates to Denmark and initiate legal actions. (this option is going to be costly as it involves time and money to the Danish government and is also risky)

Option 2: to release the pirates without taking any action ( this is the easiest option which has no legal problems)

Option 3: to handover the pirates to Somali administration for further legal action. (not known what will happen to the pirates as there is no functioning government in Somalia since 1991)

After considering the available options, Absalon did not take the pirates as prisoners on their operation on September 20. They seized only the weapons from pirates and left the pirates and their boats.

Even Absalon may release the ten captured pirates on September 17 in due course because ensuring safe custody of prisoners onboard, giving them food and accommodation is a cumbersome process.

But my view is that Absalon should Follow the French, take the pirates to Denmark and legally try them.

Update: September 25

Ten pirates held as prisoners in Absalon have been released. Reason ? Scandinavian Shipping Gazette dated September 24 reports:

“The pirates held in custody on board the frigate Absalon was released this morning. It turned out that there was no legal ground for the prosecution under Danish law and if they were taken to Denmark they would have been released at the first trial. None of the other countries around the Gulf of Aden wanted to take over the prisoners for prosecution. So there was no other option than to release the pirates, who have been on Absalon for nine days. The last alternative, to turn them over to Somalia, would violate the international conventions of not expelling anyone to countries where there could be risk for the person’s life.”

Update: November 28

On November 27, Scandinavian Shipping Gazette has reported that the Danish Government has decided to extend the deployment of warship Absalon by three more months in the Gulf of Aden. Now the ship is expected to be available for anti piracy operations till end March 2009. This decision was taken because the Danish Shipowners’ Association has, on behalf of its members, been urging the continuation of the Absalon’s mission off Somalia. Read more from Shipping Gazette.

Update: December 05

Absalon does it again. Danish warship Absalon intercepted a drifting boat due to engine failure in Yemen waters on December 04. On boarding the boat, Absalon has found out that the boat was drifting for several days without food and water. The seven crew members were suspected as Somali pirates as they were in possession of 4 Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) launchers and several AK 47 weapons.

Immediately Absalon seized the weapons, took custody of the seven suspected pirates and handed over them to Yemen authorities. As it was unsafe to tow the boat, the boat was sunk by Absalon.

Read more from Bloomberg and also view the above interesting video clip of Absalon in action from LiveLeak.

Update: January 04, 2009

On January 02, Danish warship Absalon saved a Netherlands Antilles-registered cargo ship from Somali pirates. On receiving the distress call, Absalon’s armed helicopter reached the area and fired warning shots. During the operation, the pirate boat caught fire and five pirates jumped overboard. They were saved and taken onboard Absalon. Read more from the press release from Danish Navy.

Further on January 03, Absalon caught ten pirates with weapons. The pirates were told to throw their weapons into the sea. In total, 2 pistols, 6 Kalashnikov machine guns and RPG-rocket launchers were thrown overboard. Read more from the press release from Danish Navy.

Use Google Translate to read in English from Danish.

Update: March 31

HDMS Absalon (L-16) is preparing to go to home port in Denmark after eight months of deployment in the Gulf of Aden. During her deployment, Absalon made contact with more than 80 suspected pirates, confiscated nearly 60 weapons and eight boarding ladders to be used as evidence in the prosecution of the suspected pirates. Read more from the U.S.Navy.

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