Just four incidents officially reported by UKMTO this week, although they acknowledge that there has been an increase in suspicious activity in the HRA over recent weeks.
They agree with most analysts that this could be local fishing activity returning to more normal levels following the ‘dry’ monsoon or Pirate Action Groups attempting to find more complacent merchant ships who perhaps haven’t employed the same security measures as others.
The blue water incident on March 3rd would seem to confirm that PAGs are back out there, plying their trade further out into the Arabian Sea, and merchants should start factoring dhows and whalers as possible mother ships into their thinking, as well as skiffs. The second incident on March 3rd, just off the Somali coast, suggests that Kenyan MVs transiting from Mombasa might want to consider moving slightly further out in to the Somali Basin rather than make themselves too easy a target.
Interesting to see incidents occurring quite regularly on Thursdays and Fridays. It’s too early to say with any certainty that this is a pattern, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. We’ve seen a number of attacks and approaches towards the end of the week in recent months.
Incidents off the Omani coast are always worth taking note of, too. The idea of pirates trying to catch MVs off guard as they approach or leave port is not a new one.
On to the incidents:
3 Mar – 03 16N 57 30E. At 1134 UTC a vessel reported being shadowed by suspicious craft for 3 hours, closing to approximately 1500m whereupon the embarked AST showed their weapons. The craft followed for another 30 minutes before slowing down. Vessel and crew are safe.
3 Mar– 01 34.4S 041 48.5E. At 2038 UTC a vessel reported a suspicious approach by 2 skiffs with 7-8 POB. The vessel altered course and the skiffs followed their manoeuvres, closing in from port and starboard to within 1nm. The embarked AST fire 2 warning shots at each approach and the skiffs moved away. Vessel and crew are safe.
6 Mar – 22 27.1N 60 29.2E. At 0744 UTC a vessel reported being approached by 3 white hulled skiffs with 2 POB in each skiff. The skiffs closed to the starboard side and the vessel sounded the ship’s horn. The skiffs continued to close to 300/350m and the AST fired warning shots, the skiffs moved away. Vessel and crew are safe.
7 Mar – 14 20N 053 19E. At 1630 UTC a vessel reported being approached by 3 skiffs that
manoeuvred close to the stern whereupon the vessel took evasive manoeuvres. 2 of the skiffs subsequently moved to port and starboard and the AST fired 3 flares. The skiffs then moved away. The vessel broadcast a distress call and a military helicopter and warship and arrived on the scene. Vessel and crew are safe.