NAIROBI, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- The EU naval force said Monday its warships released a crew of a dhow that was suspected to have been used a pirate mother ship in the Gulf of Aden at the weekend in the first attack in 2014.
The naval force said in a statement that its French's Operation Atalanta flagship FS Siroco in cooperation with Japanese assets arrested five suspected pirates believed to be responsible for an attack on an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden.
According to the EU NAVFOR Force the oil tanker issued a distress call to the UK Maritime Trade Operation (UKMTO) on the evening of Jan. 17, reporting to be under attack.
According to the reports, the attack was repelled by a private armed security team embarked on board the oil tanker. The skiff then headed to a dhow which lingered nearby.
"The EU Naval Force, in cooperation with other Counter Piracy Forces, reacted quickly to this incident. A Japanese Maritime Patrol Aircraft and a helicopter from the Japanese vessel JS Samidare initially located the dhow," it said.
The EU naval force also said the warship, FS Siroco was then able to close distance to the dhow and launch their helicopter and boarding team.
"Upon nearing the dhow, the helicopter crew and boarding team observed that people on board the dhow were throwing equipment over board, deepening the suspicion that the dhow was indeed the reported pirate mother-ship," it said.
The anti-piracy taskforce said the five Somali suspect pirates later surrendered and were separated from the dhow's crew and transferred to FS Siroco for further investigation.
The EU NAVFOR Force Commander, Rear Admiral Herve Blejean said the rescue operation showed once more that there will be no safe haven for piracy in the area as long as Counter Piracy Forces remain fully dedicated to their task.
This was the latest attack this year and comes after global anti-piracy watchdog reported that piracy off the coast of Somalia had dropped significantly for the past six years due to preventive measures deployed by the foreign warships to thwart such attacks.
The report by International Chamber Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reveals that there were only 15 incidents reported off Somalia in 2013, down from 75 in 2012, and 237 in 2011, contributing to the worldwide fall in piracy.
IMB Director Captain Pottengal Mukundan said the single biggest reason for the drop in worldwide piracy is the decrease in Somali piracy off the coast of East Africa.
The Somali pirates have been deterred by a combination of factors, including the key role of international navies, the hardening of vessels, the use of private armed security teams, and the stabilizing influence of Somalia's central government.