18 May 2009 - Royal Australian Navy frigates, HMA Ships Sydney and Ballarat, have come to the aid of two merchant vessels, under attack by pirates in the Gulf of Aden.
The incident occurred at around 6pm Eastern Australian Time on Sunday, 17 May 2009. Ballarat and Sydney were in international waters, approximately 170km south of Yemen, when they received a distress signal from the merchant vessel MV Dubai Princess.
The distress signal stated that pirates were firing rocket propelled grenades and attempting to board the vessels by force.
Acting in accordance with their obligations under international maritime law, the Navy ships altered course to assist MV Dubai Princess. Concurrently a second vessel in the vicinity, MV MSC Stella, reported being harassed by small vessels.
The reported pirate threat subsided once the Navy frigates asserted their presence.
HMAS Ballarat escorted the two merchant vessels to safety, in company with six other ships that subsequently entered the area; while HMAS Sydney remained in the area for several hours to report the situation to
HMAS Ballarat escorted the two merchant vessels to safety, as well as six others that subsequently entered the area once the threat had eased. HMAS Sydney remained in the area to report the situation to a Task Force 151 ship assigned to the counter-piracy mission.
Sydney and Ballarat were transiting through the Gulf of Aden as part of Northern Trident 2009 (NT09) – a six-month deployment, taking the ships around the globe.