COPENHAGEN, 17 March 2021 – Denmark will deploy a frigate to the Gulf of Guinea to help stamp out rampant sea piracy along the coast of West Africa.
The frigate will be equipped with a helicopter to patrol international waters of the Gulf of Guinea, according to a statement published Tuesday by the Danish Defense Ministry.
The Gulf of Guinea – which stretches from the coast of Angola to the coast of Senegal – is considered to be the most dangerous for seafarers anywhere in the world.
In recent years, almost all maritime abductions have occurred in the Gulf of Guinea.
Last year, 95 percent of the 22 separate incidents of piracy at sea occurred in the Gulf of Guinea, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
The frigate will escort civilian ships and carry out rescue operations following attacks, the statement explained.
The deployment will begin in November 2021 and last for an initial period of five months.
It follows a call by A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S and shipping industry groups for a more assertive international response to kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea.
Last January, the world’s biggest shipping company, the Copenhagen-based Maersk, said “effective military capacity” needs to be dispatched to the Gulf of Guinea.
Maersk handles more than a third of maritime trade going through the Gulf of Guinea.
As many as 40 Danish-operated vessels sail through the Gulf of Guinea every day.
The announcement has been welcomed by regional countries who “currently do not have the capabilities needed to suppress piracy,” said Jakob Larsen, head of maritime security at BIMCO, one of the world’s largest industry groups for shipowners.
Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea have mostly targeted oil and gas tankers, perpetrating several kidnappings in the recent years.
In a statement, the Danish defense ministry said piracy in the region “threatens the security of Danish and foreign crews”.
“In such a situation, we cannot and shall not just watch,” said Trine Bramsen, the Danish Defense Minister.
The Danish minister said they hope the frigate will be permitted to operate unhindered as long as it steers clear of individual countries’ territorial waters.
Nigeria is opposed to allowing commercial ships in its territorial waters to carry weapons even if they are in transit.
Nigeria claims that it has made investments in equipment and in training that make it unnecessary to outsource security to private security providers.
“We must stand up for the right to free navigation,” the Danish Defense Minister added.
An estimated 40 Danish merchant ships sail through the Gulf of Guinea daily, transporting goods estimated to be worth $1.6 billion a year.