Video: Denmark Deploys Frigate on Security Mission in Gulf of Guinea

 Danish frigate piracy mission in Gulf of Guinea
Esbern Snare departing Denmark on October 24 (Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Published Oct 28, 2021 2:55 PM by The Maritime Executive

Following through on its commitment to contribute to enhanced maritime safety in the Gulf of Guinea, Denmark dispatched one of its frigates to the region last weekend. The deployment comes as piracy activity has started its yearly increase in the region.

The 6,000-ton Danish frigate Esbern Snare, among the largest vessels in the Royal Danish Navy, departed from Naval Base Frederikshavn on October 24 for a six-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea. Denmark is sending approximately 175 people, which in addition to the frigate’s normal crew includes a Seahawk helicopter, military police personnel, a detachment of naval special forces, and an expanded medical team.

Denmark’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jeppe Kofod, announced in March 2021 the plans to send the frigate to the region in response to the increase in piracy and specifically kidnappings of crew. Danish officials noted that the Gulf of Guinea is one of the riskiest waters for civilian shipping, saying that piracy in the waters poses a problem for Denmark as a shipping nation. On average, up to 40 Danish-operated ships sail in the Gulf of Guinea on a daily basis according to the ministry.


Denmark's Ministry of Defense released this video showing the crew training for the mission


The deployment was timed to coincide with a historic increase in piracy activity after the weather improves in the region around this time each year. The piracy reporting center MDAT-GoG piracy has been warning of increased danger in recent weeks, and earlier this week the Russian Navy reported that it had chased off assailants after they boarded an MSC containership. Security consultants Dryad Global also reported this week that an OSV has been boarded by an unknown number of attackers and three crewmembers were believed to have been taken from the vessel.

"We must deploy there to increase the security of the civilian ships in the area and intervene in the event of any pirate attacks," said Commander Lars Povl Jensen, who is in charge of the frigate. 

The Esbern Snare will be deployed in a purely Danish operation, but the Defense Ministry noted that several other European countries often have naval vessels in the area. The frigate is no stranger to the challenges of combating piracy having played a lead role in NATO’s efforts to combat pirates off the Horn of Africa from 2008 to 2017.

 "I expect that we will come down to a task that is very similar to the one we solved off the east coast of Africa. But we also expect that there will be differences. There will be a different navigational pattern, for example, where vessels do not sail along fixed routes, and there are littoral countries with coastguards that we can cooperate with but also have to accommodate,” says Jensen.

Denmark expects that the visible presence of the Esbern Snare in the area will be a deterrent for pirates. The frigate will also try to actively locate pirates, and it will intervene if possible if pirate attacks occur.

Denmark will also support anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Guinea providing training for the Ghana Special Boat Service and will provide military advice to a maritime coordination center in Ghana.