Indian Ocean HRA
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 22nd – 28th March
There have been no reported piracy incidents reported in the High Risk Area (HRA) during this reporting period.
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.
Maltese armed forces have boarded a Turkish owned oil tanker in the Mediterranean Sea which was hijacked by migrants. On the 27th March, the El Hiblu 1 rescued more than 100 migrants from a sinking vessel north of Libya and intended to take them back there. The vessel was around 6 nautical miles from the port of Tripoli when the migrants forced the 12-man crew to turn around and head north towards Malta. Maltese authorities established communications with the captain of the oil tanker when it was about 30 nautical miles away from Malta and proceeding towards the island. “The captain repeatedly stated that he was not in control of the vessel and that he and his crew were being forced and threatened by a number of migrants to proceed to Malta.” A Maltese patrol vessel stopped the tanker from entering Maltese waters. A special forces unit was then dispatched to board the tanker and hand over control of the ship to the captain. “The tanker, her crew and all migrants are being escorted by the Armed Forces of Malta to Boiler Wharf (in Valletta) to be handed over to the police for further investigations,” Maltese authorities said.
A meeting of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) in al Hudaydah was cancelled on March 25 after al Houthi movement representatives refused to enter territory controlled by Hadi government-aligned forces to attend the meeting. RCC Chairman Michael Lollesgaard was to reveal a new plan for military forces to withdraw from ports in al Hudaydah governorate. The new plan is reportedly similar to previous proposals but will push the issue of the identities of the local security forces to oversee Saleef, Ras Isa, and al Hudaydah ports to the next phase of redeployments. The Hadi government has approved the new plan, but the al Houthi movement has yet to declare a position. UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths discussed obstacles to the implementation of the first phase of the al Hudaydah redeployments during a meeting with Hadi government Foreign Minister Khalid al Yamani in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on March 25.
Al Shabaab militants attacked a government ministry in Mogadishu on March 23, killing 11 people including parliamentarian and Deputy Labor Minister Saqar Ibrahim Abdala. The militants detonated two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) at the main gate before storming the compound, which houses the Labor Ministry and Public Works and Housing Ministry. Al Shabaab’s Shahada News Agency released several statements on the attack, including updates while the attack was ongoing. The group said that the attack targeted the two ministries because they had recruited young people to be spies and sought to “undermine noble Islamic values.” Al Shabaab conducted three smaller bombings in Mogadishu on March 23, including a roadside attack that killed four Somali soldiers.