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On Sunday the frigate Esbern Snare will sail towards the Gulf of Guinea to enhance security of shipping in the pirate-infested area. The navy assets include a helicopter, special operations forces, and a contingent of military police.

By the Danish Defense Command

 

On Sunday 24 October, the frigate Esbern Snare will depart from Naval Base Frederikshavn and set course for the Gulf of Guinea off West Africa. The Danish frigate will contribute to the international fight against piracy in the area from the beginning of November and approx six months ahead.

 

The Gulf of Guinea is one of the most risky waters for civilian shipping, and piracy in the waters thus also poses a problem for Denmark, which is the world's fifth-largest shipping nation. On average, up to 40 Danish-operated ships sail in the Gulf of Guinea on a daily basis and they transport goods worth almost DKK 10 billion annually.

 

"We must deploy there to increase the security of the civilian ships in the area and intervene in the event of any pirate attacks," says Commander Lars Povl Jensen, who is in charge of the frigate.

 

In addition to the frigate and its permanent crew, the navy assets will also include a Seahawk helicopter,  military police personnel,  and a detachment of naval special forces. It will also include an expanded medical team. The deployed personnel will comprise up to approx 175 people.

 

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The challenge is well-known, but different

 

The Navy fought pirates off the Horn of Africa from 2008 to 2017. It is therefore basically a well-known challenge that the Esbern Snare will face.

 

"I expect that we will come down to a task that is very similar to the one we solved off the east coast of Africa. But we also expect that there will be differences. There will be a different navigational pattern, for example,  where vessels do not sail along fixed routes, and there are littoral countries with coastguards that we can cooperate with but also have to accommodate,” Lars Povl Jensen explains.

 

Lars Povl Jensen expects that the visible presence of the Esbern Snare in the area will be a deterrent for  pirates. But the frigate will also try to actively locate pirates and it will intervene if possible if pirate attacks occur.With its helicopter, the Esbern Snare will have a wide operational range, and the Danish navy assets will therefore be able to interfere in a large area around the frigate.

 

The Esbern Snare will be deployed in a purely Danish operation, but several other European countries often have naval vessels in the area.

 

Denmark will also support anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Guinea through contributions to capacity building in the littoral states. Soldiers from the naval special forces will train their counterparts from the Ghana Special Boat Service, and Denmark will provide military advice to a maritime coordination center in Ghana. Last but not least, Denmark will support the establishment of forums for cooperation between relevant actors in the area.

 

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Watch video from the final training before the deployment of the frigate.