The Danish government has announced plans to send a frigate to the Gulf of Guinea region to combat piracy.
As informed, a Royal Danish Navy vessel is scheduled to head south for the Gulf of Guinea — the area which is heavily plagued by piracy and kidnappings — in the autumn.
“The frigate will be of Absalon class,” a spokesperson for Danish Shipping, a trade and employer organization for over 90 shipowners and offshore companies, confirmed to Naval Today.
The navy operates two Absalon-class frigates — HDMS Absalon (F341) and HDMS Esbern Snare (F342) — commissioned back in 2004 and 2005, respectively.
The units are primarily designed for command and support roles, with a large roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) deck, but with their many offensive weapons and new anti-submarine weapons and tasks, the class was changed to frigates by the Royal Danish Navy in 2020.
The Danish ASW frigates of the Absalon class have a displacement of 6,300 tons, and feature a length of 137 meters and a width of 19.5 meters. They are equipped, among other things, with Harpoon missiles, Sea Sparrow missiles and anti-submarine torpedoes. In addition, each ship can operate two Sea Hawk Helicopters.
Danish Shipping: Danish frigate will make a big difference
Metal Maritime and Danish Shipping have welcomed the decision to send the Danish naval vessel to the Gulf of Guinea to combat piracy.
“The timing is perfect, as the autumn and winter months are the high season for piracy in the area, due to the weather,” Danish Shipping said.
The number of kidnappings in the GoG region has increased in recent years, and three Danish ships have been attacked in recent months. The ships in question are Maersk Cardiff, Maersk Cadiz and Torm Alexandra. In all three cases, the crews fortunately escaped physically unharmed from the incidents with the help of Nigerian and Italian warships.
“It is good that Denmark, as one of the world’s leading maritime nations, is taking its share of the international responsibility for protecting ships and seafarers from piracy. We owe that to the crews on board,” Ole Philipsen, chair of the Metal Maritime union organisation, pointed out.
“The multiple attacks in the Gulf of Guinea are what have kept us awake at night for many months now, and our highest priority is to do something about the safety of seafarers and merchant ships. No seafarer should be afraid to turn up for work. Everyone must be confident about coming home unharmed,” Anne H. Steffensen, CEO, said.
Equipped with a SEAHAWK helicopter, the frigate will be able to deploy special operations forces from the frigate’s maritime task force if necessary. The task force is trained to carry out rescue operations on hijacked ships.
“The Danish warship will undoubtedly make a big difference,” Steffensen concluded.
The Gulf of Guinea is a large area, and pirates often operate far off the coast. They deliberately target the kidnapping of crew members in order to demand a ransom.
The Danish Defence Intelligence Service states in its most recent risk assessment for 2020 that the underlying causes of piracy are not expected to change positively in the short to medium term. Nor does it expect Nigeria and the other countries to be able to intervene effectively against the pirates.