Simon Coveney to decide on Defence Forces role in tackling piracy in Indian Ocean

Permutations of resources and personnel being considered to combat ocean piracy

Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney: options in helping combat sea piracy include sending a well-trained unit of 20 to serve on World Food Programme vessels, sending Air Corps personnel and an aircraft to improve surveillance capacity or deploying “a fully crewed ship for a period of three or four months to participate in the work the fleet is doing there”. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney: options in helping combat sea piracy include sending a well-trained unit of 20 to serve on World Food Programme vessels, sending Air Corps personnel and an aircraft to improve surveillance capacity or deploying “a fully crewed ship for a period of three or four months to participate in the work the fleet is doing there”. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said the department and military authorities were seriously considering potential options for personnel to protect ships delivering food aid to Somalia and other vessels from piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast.

He told Sinn Féin’s Seán Crowe that, while consideration was at a very early stage, “I will probably be able to say whether this is a real likelihood” by the time of the next Dáil defence questions, due on February 19th”.

Three possibilities are under consideration – sending a well-trained unit of 20 to serve on World Food Programme vessels, sending Air Corps personnel and an aircraft to improve surveillance capacity or deploying “a fully crewed ship for a period of three or four months to participate in the work the fleet is doing there”.

Ballpark figure

He said the EU’s Operation Atalanta, which the Defence Forces would join if they went, “is specifically about counteracting and preventing piracy and providing a significant deterrent” for a serious threat to vessels carrying food aid.