Gulf of Guinea
Both at sea and on land, the Danish Armed Forces are making an effort to improve maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, where merchant ships are plagued by pirate attacks.
A Danish frigate is to combat piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and protect merchant shipping from november 2021. Photo: Anders Fridberg/Armed Forces.
In November 2021, the Danish Armed Forces will send a frigate to the Gulf of Guinea to improve maritime security in international waters and repel piracy attacks. At the same time, the Armed Forces contribute with training and advice to the littoral states in the Gulf of Guinea, so that in the future they can more effectively take care of security in the region themselves.
As the world's fifth-largest maritime nation, Denmark has a special interest in protecting commercial shipping and the right to free navigation. On average, up to 40 Danish-operated ships sail through the Gulf of Guinea on a daily basis, and they transport goods worth around USD 1.5 billion a year. The Gulf of Guinea is one of the most perilous areas for civilian shipping. In 2020, about 40 pct of the total number of pirate attacks and armed robberies globally took place at sea in the countries around the Gulf of Guinea.
The frigate (the Esbern Snare), which will operate in the Gulf of Guinea five months from November 2021, with its attached helicopter and maritime task force will have a total crew of up to approx 175 personnel. The maritime task force amounts to up to approx 25 staff and personnel, incl special operations forces as well as personnel from the Military Police and the Navy's diving service. The exact strength and composition of the maritime task force may vary over time, as there may be a need for periodic deployment of up to additional 15 specialist individuals for high-risk assignments. In addition, it will be possible to deploy up to five staff or liaison officers before, during, and after the frigate’s deployment.
The naval force contingent will operate under national Danish command and will create safer conditions for shipping in international waters, including the protection and escort of vessels that are exposed to hijacking attempts. The frigate will be deployed in the Gulf of Guinea from around November 2021 and five months onwards. This is the time of year when conditions at sea are most favorable for the vessels that the pirates have at their disposal, and therefore when the majority of the pirate attacks usually take place. The area of operation for the Danish contingent will be international waters (open sea and the exclusive economic zone) in the Gulf of Guinea.
Some of the pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea take place in the territorial waters of littoral states, where foreign naval vessels are not authorized to operate without the permission of the individual countries. This means that the littoral nations’ military forces play a central role in the fight against piracy. In the long run, it is an added objective that those littoral states become more effective at maintaining maritime security in the region themselves. Therefore, the capacity-building activities financed through the Peace and Stabilization Fund are important elements in the Danish Armed Forces' efforts in the Gulf of Guinea. Capacity-building activities in the Gulf of Guinea have been under way since 2016.
In 2021, personnel from the Danish Special Operations Command, the Danish Defense College and the Danish Navy Command participated in exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS, where soldiers from the region focused on operational planning, laws of armed conflict, tactical maneuvers, boarding of ships, gathering of evidence, and first aid - aspects all relevant to combating piracy.
Operation strengthThe Peace- and Stabilisation Fund
Period of timeFra 2016