While there has been a significant decline in piracy activity in the Gulf of Guinea, the Italian authorities increased the level of safety on board national ships at MARSEC 2 and undertook a training exercise testing readiness to respond to threats to merchant ships.
amely, the frigate Luigi Rizzo, which left Italy on February 24 and is currently deployed in the Gulf of Guinea as part of the Gabinia anti-piracy operation under the Operational Control of Command in Chief of the Naval Squad led the exercise.
Using a realistic scenario, off Ivory Coast, a simulated group of pirates in a small boat attempt to attack the Grande Cameroon, a 26,650 dwt ro-ro container ship. The Italian flagged vessel initiated the national alarm sequence involving the operational headquarters of the Grimaldi Group in Naples along with the IMRCC of the Coast Guard as the National Competent Authority for Ship Security. The notice went to CINCNAV resulting in the response by the frigate.
The military unit with its SH-90 helicopter placed a security team from the Marina San Marco Brigade aboard the vessel. The team prevented the attack, ensuring close protection, support, and assistance to the threatened merchant ship.
The Italian Navy reported that they tested the alarm and intervention procedures in place in case of piracy incident as well as the operational structures. Specific exercises such as these are frequently scheduled to verify the security plans, the communications between all the national institutions, and the operational and tactical interaction between the units of the Navy.
In April 2022, the Luigi Rizzo was involved in an incident when pirates attempted an assault on the bulker Arch Gabriel. The frigate dispatched one of its security teams by helicopter while it sailed to the vessel.
They determined that the bulker’s crew was in the vessel’s citadel and searched the bulker to ensure that it was safe for the crew to resume operations.