Denmark to seek agreements for West Africa anti-piracy mission

Danish Defence Minister Trine Bramsen (centre) addresses a press conference with Danish Foreign Affairs Minister Jeppe Kofoed (left) and Danske Rederier CEO Anne H. Steffensen in Copenhagen on March 16, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

COPENHAGEN (BLOOMBERG) - Denmark's government will negotiate agreements with its West African counterparts following a decision to send a naval vessel to the Gulf of Guinea to aid the fight against piracy.

The defence ministry in Copenhagen said March 16 it will deploy a frigate to patrol international waters in the gulf, the most dangerous for seafarers worldwide, for an initial five months starting in November. The warship will provide escorts to civilian shipping and carry out rescue operations following pirate attacks.

The government plans to "put forward a suggestion for a parliamentary decision regarding a military contribution for the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea" within several months, a defence ministry spokesman said by email.

It will also "seek to negotiate necessary agreements, including on possible transfer and prosecution of apprehended pirates, with relevant governments in the region," he said.

The gulf, an expanse of the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Senegal to Angola, accounts for almost all maritime kidnappings in recent years. Of the 135 crew abducted at sea globally in 2020, 95 per cent were taken in the region, according to the International Maritime Bureau. Hostages are usually taken to Nigeria, where ransoms are arranged.

Copenhagen-based AP Moller-Maersk A/S, the world's biggest shipping company, and industry groups have been calling for a more assertive international response to kidnappings in the gulf.

The frigate's mandate is expected to follow the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea's "legal framework for the repression of piracy," the defence ministry spokesman said.

The treaty allows military vessels to conduct anti-piracy operations anywhere at sea except the territorial waters of individual states.

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