23 January 2014
Members of HMNZS TE MANA's Boarding Party on the ship’s flight deck off the Somali coast, with the ship's Seasprite helicopter in the overwatch position above them. This is the boarding team and flight crew involved in boarding operations during OP TIKI VI.
Somali fishermen working off the Horn of Africa have told the crew of Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS TE MANA they feel more secure knowing the warship is conducting counter-piracy operations in the region.
The frigate and its crew of 182 people arrived off the Horn of Africa in late November 2013 to support the CMF's multi-national Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, as part of a long-term commitment to contribute to stability and protect trade in the region.
Commander Shane Arndell, Commanding Officer of TE MANA, says the frigate’s specialist boarding teams have frequently visited small boats operating in the area to meet local mariners, share information on best practice and reinforce the message that piracy does not pay.
"Since we deployed here in late November, we've done 19 boardings to check for evidence of piracy, and the ship's helicopter has spent nearly 70 hours in the air on patrol," he said.
“Somali fishermen tell us ‘it’s great to see a warship out here. We feel safer therefore we can go out and start fishing again’,” he added.
Interaction with local fishermen is an essential part of counter-piracy operations because it reinforces to the local maritime community that the 30-nation Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) are committed to stamping out piracy.
“The feedback from local fishermen reflects the reality of the success of CMF, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, European Union and others engaged in the region,” said Commander Arndell.
“New Zealanders can be proud of the work that TE MANA and its officers, sailors, and airmen are doing off the coast of Somalia. Everyone we have come across has commented favourably on our being here. This, in turn, shows that we are achieving the United Nations mandate to disrupt piracy at sea,” he explained.
The frigate carries specialist equipment and personnel, including boarding teams and rigid hull inflatable boats, to allow her to carry out her counter-piracy mission. TE MANA's SH-2G Seasprite helicopter gathers coastal intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to build an accurate picture of the maritime environment and deter criminal activity.
“We need to play our part, as an international citizen and as a nation that relies on trade from the sea,” said Commander Arndell, noting that 95 per cent of New Zealand’s trade goes by sea. “The Gulf of Aden and this part of the world is a vital link for our trade with the rest of the world so it is important that we contribute to the anti-piracy operations here.”
Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman announced yesterday that from today HMNZS TE MANA will participate in NATO’s anti-piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield, for the next three weeks, before rejoining CTF 151.
For more information, please contact the Defence Communications Group on 021 487 980.