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Pirates of the Cambrian

Lt Cdr Grassy Meadows with TV presenter Ross Kemp aboard HMS Northumberland during Operation Atalanta
Ross Kemp intervies the OIC of the RM Boarding Team during Operation Atalanta
Ross Kemp with a captured pirate skiff during Operation Atalanta

Lieutenant Commander `Grassy’ Meadows a Media Operations Specialist in the RNR was a member of the Royal Navy’s 2 man media team supporting TV hard man Ross Kemp in the production of a 3 part TV series on Global Piracy.  Part one was filmed aboard the Royal Navy Type 23 Frigate HMS Northumberland on patrol in the Gulf of Aden and is due to be broadcast on Sky TV this summer.

Piracy in the Gulf of Aden is an extremely serious and very profitable business for these modern day maritime highjackers.   Today’s pirates are armed to the teeth with Rocket Propelled Grenades and Kalashnikov rifles, a far cry from the cutlass-swinging swashbuckler Captain Jack Sparrow portrayed by Johnny Depp.  

For the next 12 months the Navies of the European Union are carrying out Operation ATALANTA in a bid to protect global shipping that transits this treacherous area on its way to and from the Suez Canal at the head of the Red Sea.

The EU operation is attracting a great deal of media attention.  Along with Ross Kemp and his production crew, the Sun Defence Correspondent Tom Newton Dunn and BBC News Correspondent Jonah Fisher were also reporting from aboard HMS Northumberland.

For over 5 days HMS Northumberland patrolled the vast sea area in search of the marauding pirates.  Dawn and dusk patrols (the prime times for attacks on transiting cargo vessels) by the ship’s Merlin helicopter extended the horizon to over two hundred miles.  The ship’s Royal Marine boarding crews were dispatched in their fast rigid raider craft on numerous occasions to investigate potential attackers.

The pirates are masters of disguise; they roam the seas in search of potential prey in extremely fast, long, slim wooden craft known as skiffs, unfortunately these skiffs are also used by hundreds of legitimate fishermen going about their everyday business.   If threatened by patrolling warships or aircraft the pirates quickly dispose of their arms and boarding equipment and make out to be local fishermen avoiding any form of prosecution.

“It was an extremely exciting time working with the film and news crews,” said Lt Cdr Grassy Meadows.  “There is a very action packed conclusion to Ross Kemp’s production in HMS Northumberland, but you will have to wait until the series is aired to discover exactly how this episode concludes.”