(Image courtesy of OCEANUSLive.org)
Sources inform me that the coordinates given by the IMB are incorrect. The incident is reported to have actually occurred in position 24:33N-062:44E.
A pair of possible piracy incidents off Pakistan on the final day of February are of interest. The first saw a bulk carrier apparently pursued by suspected pirates in a skiff at 1300 LT, around 40nm SE off Gwadar, Pakistan. The skiff chased the vessel for approximately four hours, which shows a level of commitment from pirates we haven’t seen in some time; hard to call this one fishing activity.
The bulk carrier contacted UKMTO, took evasive action as per BMP 4 recommendations and headed towards the coast. It is not known whether it was transiting with a team of armed guards, but the vessel’s behaviour suggests it had no armed protection on board.
The Pakistani Navy deployed a craft which located the skiff and detained the suspected pirates.
On the same day, local media reported that the MV Crystal Gold, another bulk carrier, reported “a big boat and a smaller vessel coming at them” at about 1630 LT. The ship had been heading for Iran’s Bandar Abbas after offloading cargo in India, according to the Chief Nautical Surveyor of the Bangladesh Shipping Department, Jasim Uddin Sarkar.
Once the crew spotted the suspected pirates, the ship turned around and headed at full speed for the Pakistan coast. According to media reports, the pirates gave up their chase at around 1900 hours.
It’s not clear whether these are indeed two distinct incidents off Pakistan or just one incident where the facts are confused. Further details are expected.
This comes on the heels of an incident in the Gulf of Oman on the same day when, at 0851 UTC, a MV reported two skiffs with 2-3 POB with ladders allegedly sighted in one of the skiffs. This was initially reported as an attack by MSC-HOA and other sources and then downgraded to a suspicious approach. The Omani Coast Guard reported that the skiffs were engaged in normal fishing activity although the incident remains ‘on the books’ of the reporting agencies as a suspicious approach.
A CSO I spoke to tells me he was informed by the Royal Omani CG that there had not been pirates in their waters since 2011. I remain sceptical of that claim. Regardless, it’s clear that the pirates are still out on the water, looking for targets of opportunity.