The frigate “Mendez Nunez is equipped with sophisticated surveillance systems for sea, land and air. It was monitoring in real time every move of the Somali pirates, who with the booty in their hands, flee the scene with several Zodiacs letting safe and alone the fishermen in Playa Bakio ship. The frigate, with a 600-kilometer range radar, did not intervene, in spite of having planned an operation to capture kidnappers and being at short distance of the ship. They had orders from the Spanish government not to do so, even when the lives of fishermen were not risk. (…)
Among the recent acts of piracy in Somali waters, the Spanish tuna ship is the only one “resolved” without military intervention. That is, is the only case in recent years where it has been possible for the criminals to escape with the loot under the eyes of a naval ship that has the most advanced combat systems and high technology in the world. A system that, apart form Spain, only the U.S. Navy has [They may be exaggerating… If this is the case, it is obviously because it was acquired from the US Navy. In any case, the name of the system is not mentioned]. In previous cases, a French yacht and a Dubai tanker, the French army and the Somali one intervened in the operation. In the Spanish case, the frigate was only allowed to act as a passive witness.
The way chosen by Zapatero – the “diplomatic negotiation” – which has led to accept the blackmail with the surrender of the ransom money- has caused great embarrassment among the Armed Forces, which fail to understand why the Government did not allow the frigate to intervene in order to prevent the escape of the kidnappers with the ransom. They consider that the decision of the Executive represents a serious setback for the international prestige of the Spanish Armed Forces and say that their European colleagues have let them know their surprise for the failure to intervene against the Somali kidnappers.
The sources consulted claim that it would have been perfectly feasible to undertake an operation similar to that of France. In this case, following the payment of the ransom, the French forces deployed in the area followed the hijackers of the yacht “Le Ponant” and capture them onshore. After being arrested, the pirates were taken to an aircraft carrier and sent to France. (…) On the opposite, Zapatero’s Government chose not to act despite the fact that the control and surveillance systems of the frigate and the preparation of the troops guaranteed a successful intervention.
De la Vega [Vice-president], satisfied
While the pirates enjoy the spoils and the Armed Forces criticize that the military was only allowed to act as witnesses to a crime, Teresa Fernandez de la Vega declared yesterday that the executive “has done everything needed and nothing that should not be done” and refused to speak about the payment of a ransom.
Source: El Gobierno impidió que la fragata actuara después de pagar el rescate. Moreover, this article (Spanish) elaborates on the growing irritation among military and the opposition against the Government’s decision not to capture the pirates