Almost to the day four years ago, on April 5, 2010, Somali pirates hijacked the German MV Taipan in the Indian Ocean. A few hours later, Dutch marines boarded the container vessel, arresting ten pirates who in the end faced trial in a German court.
While the role of the Dutch boarding team had been higlighted in news reports (undoubtedly because the Dutch released video footage of the boarding rather soon; see below), the role of a German Maritime Reconnaissance and Patrol Aircraft (MRPA) Orion P-3C, call sign Jester, was rarely acknowledged. Four years after the hijacking, the German Navy has released video footage taken from the aircraft:
(direct link: http://youtu.be/aSNvtsOlFuw)
Jester’s mission proved crucial for the swift response, directed from the Dutch frigate Tromp. The aircraft crew was not only able to watch and report the hijacking; the plane stayed on station to feed information to the boarding team, almost to the last drop of kerosene. They must have flown on vapour, Tromp’s commanding officer Hans Lodder told me later. Shutting down some of the four engines, the German crew managed to remain on station long enough to confirm that only pirates were visible aboard the Taipan – a clear sign the crew was in the safe room, thus making the commando operation possible.
The video footage appeared first in a report on German TV network ARD – so far, obviously the Navy had not bothered to release it (unlike the Dutch). The version shown above is the declassified materiel made available by the Naval Air Wing.
The Dutch video, published in April 2010: