An Italian-flagged ro-ro container ship of the Genoese company Ignazio Messina & C. S.p.A., the Jolly Cristallo, and a unit of the Italian Navy, the frigate Virginio Fasan, were the protagonists on 8 August in the Gulf of Aden, of an advanced anti-piracy exercise, consisting in the actual simulation of an attack, a reaction resulting to the actions of the Italian frigate.
The exercise is part of the activities periodically carried out by the Italian Navy in support of shipping companies and aimed at maritime security, which is even more relevant for those who operating in certain contexts such as the Gulf of Aden and that of Guinea, where the piracy phenomenon of piracy is present since some time.
The occasion highlights the importance of the national military naval units presence in an area of fundamental strategic interest for the safeguarding of the country’s maritime interests is highlighted. The exercise confirms the high level of coordination achieved between CINCNAV (Comando in Capo della Squadra Navale headquartered in Rome), Assarmatori and the Italian shipping companies operating in the area.
The training event, which took place within the International Recommended Traffic Corridor (“IRTC”) – the traffic corridor controlled and protected by the air-sea assets operating as part of the EUNAVFOR Somalia mission Operation Atalanta – happened with the passage through the area of the motor vessel Jolly Cristallo. On this latter, was simulated an attempt to take control of the ship by a group of pirates. The alarm, promptly relayed to the CINCNAV Commander-in-Chief, led to the intervention of the frigate Fasan, which intervened according to the procedures in use – sending the San Marco Marine Brigade team on board by helicopter, thus foiling the simulated attack and allowing normal commercial operations to resume.
“These are exercises that now held regularly”, remarked Assarmatori, “and which are of great importance for the protection of crews, Italian ships and cargo on risky routes. In these cases, the training of the crews and the role played by the Italian Navy, a precious and irreplaceable role above all in the protection of human lives, is decisive”. In these circumstances, the training of the personnel operating at the CINCNAV Marine Multidomain Operation Center (“COMM”) is also significant, which is responsible for analyzing and ensuring the correct flow of communications.
Assarmatori reiterated how “the collaboration between the Navy and the Merchant Marine is successful when those conditions of harmony and symbiosis are created and have characterized the interaction between crews and the military”.