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Somalia: Piracy

Volume 488: debated on Tuesday 3 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) ships and (b) other units of the Armed Forces have been committed to the protection of merchant shipping from pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden. (258014)

As part of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), HMS Cumberland provided protection to vulnerable vessels, including World Food Programme shipping, when it transited through the gulf of Aden between October and December 2008.

The EU counter-piracy mission Operation Atalanta took on this protection role as its primary objective when SNMG2 left the region. As part of this, HMS Northumberland carried out World Food Programme shipping support between January and February 2009.

We are providing a frigate—currently HMS Portland—to conduct broader maritime security operations within the Combined Maritime Forces in the gulf of Aden. RFA Wave Knight continues to provide shipping and refuelling support to military vessels involved in counter-piracy activities in the region.

The UK takes the protection of merchant shipping very seriously and many personnel both in the UK and overseas are engaged in activities relating to the provision of maritime security. This includes co-ordination of, and support to, merchant shipping, as well as the provision of command and control functions for both UK and international military vessels.