Pirate Activity in East Africa

After a flurry of activity at the beginning of the month, things went a little quiet in the East African High Risk Area, although there have been recent reports of possible pirate activity. 

UKMTO reported two incidents logged with them between March 15th and 21st, although only one of these had any real piracy indicators or ‘tripwires’, as they’re often called.

On March 17th at 0420 UTC, a merchant ship reported six suspicious skiffs with either two to three or four to five persons on board in position 13:12N-043:04E. The crew was alerted and mustered in the ship’s citadel as a precaution, while the embarked armed security team (AST) displayed their weapons to the skiff’s occupants, which continued to follow the ship. The AST then fired one warning shot and the skiffs moved away.

The second report logged by UKMTO, on March 18th, is a little more plausible given the method of approach made on the MV. A ship reported being approached by four skiffs with three to four occupants, travelling at 17 knots at 0712 UTC in position 19:35.12N-059:19.24E. The skiffs split into pairs and approached each side of the vessel with a closest point of approach (CPA) of around 550 metres. No weapons or ladders were sighted in the skiffs, and the ship’s embarked AST closed up and displayed their weapons so the skiff occupants were aware the ship carried armed protection. Clearly, this was enough and the skiffs then moved away.

Today, the IMB report an incident in the Southern Red Sea, approximately 18nm NE of Assab, Eritrea, at 0630 UTC in position 13:18N-042:52E. The report states that five skiffs, with three persons in each, approached a chemical tanker underway at high speed. The tanker’s Master raised the alarm, mustered the crew and activated the fire pump. The armed security team took their positions and ladders were sighted in the skiffs as they closed to a distance of 1nm from the tanker. The security team immediately fired one rocket flare towards the skiffs and showed their weapons, which resulted in the skiffs aborting their approach.