Indian Ocean HRA
The UKMTO has reported that two fishing trawlers were attacked at position 002900S 048360E, some 240 nautical miles southeast of Mogadishu, Somalia at approximately 0712 UTC on April 21st. One of the trawlers, the Korean FV ADRIA, was approached by two skiffs, each with 8-10 armed persons on board.
As soon as they were alerted to the attack, a second trawler, the Spanish FV TXORI ARGI, which had been operating nearby came to the aid of the first trawler but was fired upon by the pirates with an RPG at position 005700S 048390E after attempting evasive manoeuvres for around 1 hour. The embarked Armed Security Team onboard the trawler opened fire on the skiffs and made good their escape.
Later the same day (April 21st), the Korean FV SHIN SHUEN FAR 889 also reported being approached by two skiffs in the same vicinity, when the armed security team onboard the vessel showed their weapons and fired warning shots, the skiffs disengaged. The pirates in this attack had originally captured the Yemeni dhow, FV AL AZHAM off the coast of Somalia on April 19th.
On April 23rd, the EU NAVFOR flagship ESPS NAVARRA intercepted and boarded the pirate mothership and apprehended five pirates who surrendered without a fight. 23 hostages, who were the Yemini crew of the FV AL AZHAM, were also released unharmed in the process.
The threat of piracy still exists in the waters of the Southern Red Sea/ Bab el Mandeb, Gulf of Aden including Yemen and the northern Somali coast, Arabian Sea/Gulf of Oman and off the eastern and southern Somali coastline. Although the opportunity for attacks has reduced, Somali pirates continue to possess the motivation and capability to carry out attacks.
Reported incidents HRA 19th April – 25th April
21st April – Attack on 2 fishing trawlers some 240 nautical miles southeast of Mogadishu, Somalia.
It is highly unlikely that international shipping is being directly targeted by combatants in the Yemen conflict, but there remains a risk of misidentification and miscalculation. The situation is fluid and the threats to shipping can change rapidly. Ship operators should carry out detailed risk assessments for each voyage into the area using the latest threat information.
Masters are advised to remain vigilant at all times inside the High-Risk Area (HRA) and follow the guidance and protective measures, as set down in BMP5. In the past, it has been reported that Pirate Attack Groups (PAG) conducted ‘soft approaches’ on merchant ships transiting the HRA. Skiffs have been known to approach vessels in order to probe the reaction of the crew and any possible security teams on-board. If the pirate approach does not elicit a response, the pirates may then proceed with an attack, using additional skiffs. The guidance in BMP5 remains relevant and merchant vessels transiting the High-Risk Area are encouraged to comply with its three fundamentals; register at MSCHOA, report to UKMTO and implement Self Protection Methods.
The al Houthi movement severed the Ma’rib-Ras Issa oil pipeline from a floating and storage offloading vessel off the coast of Ras Issa port in al Hudaydah governorate in western Yemen on April 21. Chairman of the al Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee Mohammad Ali al Houthi warned that one million barrels of crude oil contained in the pipeline could leak into the Red Sea. Al Houthi blamed the Saudi-led coalition for preventing the al Houthi movement from selling the oil and said that the coalition would be responsible for any fallout from a spill. The Yemen Oil and Gas Corporation warned against removing oil from the Ma’rib-Ras Issa pipeline earlier in April. The pipeline has corroded since the Yemen Oil and Gas Corporation stopped pumping oil through it in September 2014.
Representatives of the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese government approving Yemen’s entrance into China’s Belt and Road Initiative on April 25. Hadi’s Minister for Industry and Trade Abdulwahid al Mitami signed the memorandum of understanding during the Belt and Road conference in Beijing, China.
Senior al Shabaab official Aden Abdi Mohamed “Aden Obe” surrendered to the Somali Federal Government (SFG) near Bardhere town in Gedo region in southern Somalia on April 23. Obe surrendered along with an al Shabaab taxation official, Food Aden Mohamoud. Obe served in various capacities in al Shabaab, including as a member of al Shabaab’s Shura Council at one point. Obe was most recently the head of al Shabaab’s logistics in Lower Jubba region, according to Somali officials.
Al Shabaab militants attacked Ugandan forces from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) at a base near Bulo Marer town in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia on April 25. AMISOM forces repulsed the attack.