Germany's government okays anti-piracy mission
Chancellor Angela Merkel's government approved Wednesday the use of a German ship in a European Union anti-piracy mission off Somalia that was formally constituted two days earlier, reported dpa.
Germany has promised a naval frigate, the Karlsruhe, and up to 1,400 sailors, airmen and other military personnel, but must wait till its parliament has given authorization.
That is expected to happen on December 19, with the authorization running till December 15, 2009.
The EU expects to operate a flotilla of six warships and three reconnaissance planes in the area, with seven EU nations involved in the operation code-named Atalanta.
The modern German Navy has no experience of fighting pirates. Europe's most recent experience with rampant piracy dates back to the early 19th century. At that time, German states paid ransoms annually to pirates on North Africa's Barbary Coast.
The Merkel cabinet has agreed that the sailors on the Karlsruhe should have a "robust mandate" to shoot at pirates and liberate prisoners by force if other deterrence fails. The vessel normally has a crew of 220.
They will only be allowed to capture pirates and send them to Germany for trial if they have harmed German citizens or ships.
Atalanta is to protect sea lanes in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean off Somalia including routes for aid shipments into Somali ports.