A quieter week on the water in the EAF HRA, with just a couple of reports logged with UKMTO.
Of those two reports, only one really smacks of possible piracy, while the other is written slightly confusingly; it discusses a group of six skiffs but then slips to singular. Of course, it could just be a typo, but without knowing how many skiffs actually approached the ship, it’s hard to make a proper determination on intent.
On the the reports:
17 Mar – 13 12N-043.04E. At 0420 UTC a vessel reported 6 suspicious skiffs with either 2/3 or 4/5 POB. The crew were alerted and mustered in citidel. The bridge team and AST monitored the skiffs approach 350m to port. The AST showed weapons and the skiff continue to follow ship. The AST then fired 1 warning shot and the skiff moved away. The crew and vessel are safe.
18 Mar – 19 35.12N-059:19.24E. At 0712 UTC a vessel reported being approached by 4 skiffs with 3-4 POB at 17kts. The skiffs then split into pairs and approached each side of the vessel with a CPA of approximately 550m. No weapons or ladders were sighted and the AST closed up and showed weapons. The skiffs then moved away. The crew and vessel are safe.
As discussed, the incident on March 17th is a little confusing in its description. Given the location, it’s highly likely to have been local fishing activity rather than piracy. It’s been a long time since a PAG of this size operated.
The incident on March 18th, however, is of more interest. The approaches on either side of the ship and number of skiffs and men make a plausible argument that this was indeed a PAG looking for a soft target. Although no weapons or ladders were sighted by the AST, it would be very risky to assume that this was the normal pattern of life in the region. The location, just off the coast of Oman, again raises concerns given the suspected pirate activity the area has seen in the last month.
The map below illustrates incidents reported by OCEANUSLive.org between February 22nd and March 22nd 2014.
Image courtesy of OCEANUSLive.org.