Piracy: French Light Stealth Frigate, FS Surcouf rescues Indian dhow crew, 15 January 2013 [fr]
On 13 January 2013 afternoon, as the frigate FS Surcouf was patrolling off the Somali coast, an Indian-flagged dhow transporting various goods (furniture, linens, mattresses, etc) sent out a distress call. It had an engine failure and had sprung a leak. The FS Surcouf, 26 nautical miles away from the Indian craft, altered course to come to its assistance.
When the French frigate arrived in the area, the crew saw the ship with a life raft in its wake in extremely choppy waters. When the FS Surcouf got nearer, ten men in lifejackets emerged from the raft and waved at the frigate. The operational boat (EDO) of the FS Surcouf was immediately launched in the sea to rescue the men as quickly as possible. All the crew members had taken refuge in the raft. They had decided to evacuate their boat after having unsuccessfully tried to repair the leak. The engine compartment of the dhow had continued to fill with water.
The entire Indian crew was brought aboard the FS Surcouf safe and sound. Upon arrival, the medical team immediately took charge of them. As the last Indian sailor was embarking the FS Surcouf, the dhow heeled even further and started capsizing. Forty-five minutes later, the wreckage disappeared completely from radar screens.
The next morning, 14 January, the Indian sailors left the FS Surcouf by air. The UK Royal Navy helicopter Lynx dropped them on the Belgian frigate BNS Louise-Marie, also part of the European Union Atalanta operation, which brought them to a harbour, with the consent of the Indian authorities.
The Light Stealth Frigate FS Surcouf has been engaged for seven weeks in the European Union counter-piracy operation in the Indian Ocean. Operation Atalanta contributes to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy off the Somali coast.