The monsoon continues to suppress small boat operations in the East African HRA, with just two reports from UKMTO for the period August 16th to 22nd.¬†
While we have heard of incidents in West Africa, these remain unconfirmed at this point, so we’ll look at the two reported by UKMTO off East Africa.
On August 16th, a merchant vessel was approached by two skiffs at 0543 UTC in position 24:33N-057:58E, Gulf of Oman. The skiffs held 4 POB and 2 respectively. They closed on the MV at speed to within 8 cables. The MV reported sighting a ladder in one of the skiffs (although UKMTO use the word “alleged”, which is an interesting choice of word). Weapons were reported to have been fired from the skiffs in the direction of the MV. The MV’s armed security team responded by showing weapons and firing flares, and the skiffs backed away.
The incident is similar to one on August 12th in the same area, when an Indian-flagged tanker, the Bon Atlantico, reported being chased by three skiffs. However, very little has been made of this incident, while the one on the 12th was widely reported. It could well be that the skiffs were being operated by Omani fishermen, but the fact that shots were reportedly fired on the MV is a definite cause for concern.
On August 18th, a MV reported sighing four skiffs which were believed to have been associated with a black Yemeni dhow at 1030 UTC in position 12:52.6N-043:14.2E. One skiff carried 5-6 POB and approached the MV to within 0.5nm. The MV’s armed security team claimed to have seen a ladder (again, the word “alleged” is used). They showed their weapons at which point the skiff aborted its approach.
As weather conditions improve in the next few weeks, we expect to see more reports from the region.