>Official NATO Statement On M/V Leopard’s Hijacking

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TCG Gaziantep shadowing M/V Leopard
Photo: NATO

Turkish warship TCG Gaziantep – part of the NATO’s counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield, boarded and searched Motor Vessel (MV) Leopard after it had been attacked by armed pirates.

In the afternoon of January 12th MV Leopard was attacked by two pirate skiffs. As the pirates fired small calibre weapons, the crew retreated to a secure area in the ship known as a ‘citadel’.

A Japanese maritime patrol aircraft soon arrived at the scene and established communications with the crew. In a short message the master of MV Leopard informed the Japanese aircraft that armed pirates were on board. In the meantime TCG Gaziantep, who was about 250 nautical miles away, was tasked to steam to the position of MV Leopard.

As TCG Gaziantep approached the area, her helicopter over flew MV Leopard, however, there was no sign of the crew or the pirates on board. The Turkish boarding team subsequently searched the ship and it became clear that the pirates had left, and, having taken the 6 man crew with them, boarded a pirate ‘mother ship’.

The crew of the NATO warship is now guarding MV Leopard, ensuring it remains navigationally safe, whilst arrangements are being made to transport it back to port.

Click here to read the original text. Click here for the Turkish General Staff’s oficial statement.

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