Sunday, April 05, 2009

Japan Destroyer Aids Singapore Ship Off Somalia

A Japanese destroyer on an anti-piracy mission off Somalia has given emergency protection to a Singapore-registered ship by chasing off four suspicious boats, the defence ministry said on Saturday. The 4,650-tonne Sazanami, deployed to protect Japanese-registered vessels in and around the Gulf of Aden, received a radio call for help from the Singaporean ship at around 1740 GMT on Friday, the ministry said. The warship issued a verbal warning through loudspeakers and beamed a searchlight at the four suspicious boats, which had been pursuing the Singaporean ship, a defence ministry spokeswoman said. The four boats - one "sizable" vessel and three small boats - then left the area, the spokeswoman said, adding that neither side used weapons and that the four suspicious vessel were not identified.
JDS Sazanami (DD 113)
The incident was Japan's first action against suspected pirates off Somalia since the Sazanami and the 4,550-tonne Samidare were dispatched to join an anti-piracy mission there last month. The nation's armed forces could face combat abroad for the first time since World War II in the rare mission. Japan's major past overseas missions - including in Iraq, near Afghanistan, and as UN peacekeepers - have been largely for logistical and support purposes such as refuelling, transport and reconstruction. Under the pacifist constitution Japan adopted after World War II, the mission will allow its soldiers to use force only for self-defence and to protect Japanese interests, defined as its nationals, ships and cargo. The ministry spokeswoman said the Japanese navy's action fell under the law of the sea which calls on any ships to assist vessels in distress.

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