|Attack on the SPS Patiño|
|Part of Piracy in Somalia
SPS Patiño A14
|1 replenishment oiler|
|Casualties and losses|
|1 replenishment ship lightly damaged||1 killed
1 skiff damaged and captured
On 12 January 2012 Somali pirates attempted to attack the Spanish Navy replenishment oiler SPS Patiño after mistaking her for a large merchant ship. The pirate skiff hit the Patiño with automatic fire before being repelled, damaged by return fire and captured after a brief chase by the vessel's helicopter. The encounter took place off the coast of Somalia and ended with the death of one pirate and the capture of six others.
The SPS Patiño had been deployed on the Indian Ocean for her second tour as part of the European Union's Operation Atalanta since November 2011, when she departed from her home port of Ferrol. The Patiño was the flagship of the EU naval forces in Somali waters.
At 03:30 on the morning 12 January 2012, while at anchor after escorting a World Food Programme ship with humanitarian aid to Mogadishu, Somalia, a sentry aboard the Spanish vessel gave the alert when he spotted a skiff alongside Patiño´s hull, with the obvious intention of boarding the ship. The skiff was manned by seven individuals, who opened fire on the Spanish unit with AK-47 rifles. The pirates apparently mistook the warship for a freighter. The Patiño was hit on her hull and funnel by 50 rounds in the ensuing gunbattle, which lasted up to two minutes. The Spanish vessel returned fire with her light armament, but when the pirates continued the aggression, the Spanish sailors proceeded to "neutralize" the threat with what the Spanish Ministry of Defence described as "self-defense fire", which forced the skiff to flee. The motor boat was then chased by one of the Patiño's SH-3 Sea King helicopters for 3,000 yards, warned by megaphone and eventually stopped after a last outburst across her bows from the helicopter's machine gun. During the pursuit the attackers threw overboard three ladders, two bags and seven rifles. The Spanish personnel captured six men of whom five were wounded, three of them seriously. The pirates declared that a seventh member of the crew was killed in the exchange of fire and that his dead body fell to the sea. The skiff, damaged by gunfire, was confiscated by the Spanish authority.
Eloy Velasco, the judge in charge of the Audiencia Nacional of Spain ordered the arrested men taken to Spain for questioning under charges of piracy, possession of illegal weapons, damage to government property, and assault on members of the security forces. Velasco considers that the attack in international waters came under Spanish jurisdiction since the assault was carried out against Spanish citizens and no current agreement with a third country prevents this course of action. Since May 2009 there was a deal between the European Union and Kenya to judge in that country any act of piracy committed in the Indian Ocean, but by 2010 Kenya's High Court had ruled that the Kenyan government should put on trial only those subjects captured inside its territorial waters. The Court of Appeal overthrew the decision in October 2012.
- ↑ El buque 'Patiño' abandona Ferrol para incorporarse a la operación `Atalanta´ by Raúl Salgado, 21 November 2011 (Spanish)
- ↑ Somali pirates attack EU flagship as new commander takes over by Joel Shelton. Public Service Europe, 13 January 2012
- ↑ El buque de la Armada volvía de un servicio de escolta para el Programa Mundial de Alimentos cuando fue atacado Europa Press, 12 January 2011 (Spanish)
- ↑ EU Navy Has Gunfire Exchange With Somali Pirates by Michelle Wiese Bockmann. Bloomberg Businessweek, 13 January 2012
- ↑ El «Patiño» cumplió las normas de la UE para repeler el ataque pirata La Voz de Galicia, 14 January 2012 (Spanish)
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Pirates attack Spanish navy ship off Somalia, prompting gunbattle and helicopter chase Associated Press, 12 January 2012
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 Seis piratas detenidos y uno muerto tras intentar atacar un buque de la Armada La Region, Vigo, 12 January 2012 (Spanish)
- ↑ Confundir con un mercante al buque de la Armada española Patiño explicaría el absurdo ataque del esquife de piratas Defensa.com, 13 January 2012 (Spanish)
- ↑ «Creyeron que era un barco mercante» ABC, 13 January 2012 (Spanish)
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 La Audiencia Nacional ordena encarcelar y traer a España a los piratas somalíes que atacaron el Patiño Euro-Press, 13 January 2012 (Spanish)
- ↑ "Kenya can try Somali pirates, appeal court says" Associated Press, 18 October 2012
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