Do Cruisers Have the Right to a Navy Escort in Pirate Zones?

The Royal Navy has turned down a request by a Dutch couple who asked for a warship escort for a yacht flotilla across pirate zones of the Indian Ocean. Rene and Edith Tiemessen told the Daily Express they have the right to protection as they make their way home from Thailand on their 60-foot yacht, Alondra. The Tiemessens, who are traveling with their two-year-old daughter, had previously sailed with Paul and Rachel Chandler, who were kidnapped by Somali pirates in 2009.

The Tiemessens said that they have organized a convoy of about 30 yachts from Thailand to Turkey, and asked the Royal Navy for protection for about a four-day stretch of that journey. Rene Tiemessen told that there are at least 200 to 250 other cruising sailors on 100 yachts that are seeking the same sort of protection given to commercial vessels. The sailors say they are “stranded,” waiting for a safe time to cross.

“We have been begging for help for months (from the EU anti-piracy task force), because we knew we would have to make this journey to get home, which is the same for all the other sailors stranded here,” he told the website. “We are not simply cruising around irresponsibly. We are caught on the wrong side of an ever-changing and expanding problem. But now they have told us there is nothing they can do. It’s like asking for help from the police, and being told you are not eligible.”

The Royal Navy heads the EU anti-piracy task force, which includes 27 vessels from Spain, Germany, Italy and France patrolling an area larger than Europe. “This is a totally unrealistic request. The naval vessels of Operation Atlanta have to prioritize their duties, and protecting merchant vessels leaves them with little scope for protecting unnecessary sailing,” was the response from the Ministry of Defense.

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