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Australian Navy rescues hostages off Somalia
15 April 2011

A boarding party from HMAS Stuart approaches the pirated dhow, Al Shahar 75.
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HMAS Stuart has interdicted a Yemeni-flagged dhow and rescued three crew members who were being held hostage by Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa.

The interdiction occurred on the morning of Monday 11th April 2011 after HMAS Stuart had been monitoring suspected pirate activity in the area for several hours.

The Chief Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Mark Evans, said he was very pleased with the way HMAS Stuart’s crew handled a difficult and dangerous mission.

“No shots were fired by either HMAS Stuart or the pirates during the interdiction and no threats were made by the pirates to harm the Yemeni crew once they saw the boarding party rapidly secure the dhow,” Lieutenant General Evans said.

Stuart’s boarding party did extremely well in maintaining the safety of the dhow’s crew and ensuring a potentially challenging situation did not escalate.”

The Al Shahar 75 was attacked and seized by pirates about 20 days ago.

Fifteen Somali pirates surrendered to HMAS Stuart’s boarding party as they approached the Al Shahar 75.

During a search of the dhow, the boarding party located 11 AK-47 assault rifles with 16 magazines, a large quantity of small arms ammunition and a Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher with grenade. The weapons were catalogued and then disposed over-board.

The unarmed pirates were released in their skiff after being provided with adequate water, food, fuel and communication equipment to make the nearest land-fall off the Somalia coast.

The Yemeni vessel was safely escorted from the area by HMAS Stuart.

The Royal Australian Navy frigate is deployed to the Middle East, conducting maritime security, counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations with the Combined Maritime Forces.