A busier week for reports, with UKMTO logging three incidents, although the incident on May 21st wasn’t immediately reported to them, which doesn’t help domain awareness. All incidents should be reported to UKMTO immediately, in order to ensure other ships nearby can be alerted to possible pirate activity.
On with the reports:
20 May – 12 52.5N 43 12.03E. At 0747 a vessel reported being approached by 4 skiffs with 3-4 POB to within 0.7nm. The Skiffs circled around the vessel for approximately 20/30 minutes. No weapons or ladders were sighted. The security team showed weapons and the skiffs moved away.
20 May – 12 35.3N 043 20.4E. At 0827 UTC the same vessel as above reported a further 3 skiffs approaching to within 5 cables. Again the embarked security team showed weapons and the skiffs backed off. The vessel and crew are safe.
21 May – 24 48.3N 057 41E. At 0800 UTC a vessel reported the sighting of 2 skiffs, one with 4 POB, the other with 3 POB, all with masked faces and one person in each standing at the bow. The skiffs were initially detected at 4nm and continued to be tracked until one skiff approached to within 0.5nm when the AST fired two warnings shots, firing a further two at 0.4nm upon which the skiffs broke away. No ladders or weapons were sighted. The vessel and crew are safe.
The first incident is particularly interesting, given the actions of the skiffs. Four skiffs would be large for a PAG these days, but the circling of the MV is particularly odd if they were legitimate fishermen.
The BAM is certainly seeing consistent reports of possible piracy, but that must be weighed against the fact that this region is heavily trafficked by small boats and it’s all too easy for their behaviour to be misinterpreted. In this case though, it does seem unusual.
The incident in the Gulf of Oman is of particular note, given the number of ships leaving or transiting to port who may be caught off guard by possible pirates. In this incident, it’s curious that the occupants should be masked if their actions were legitimate. Again, Masters and ASTs are recommended to exercise caution during the first and last legs of a transit, when alertness may be low.
As the Southwest monsoon begins to make its presence felt, we can expect to see more incident reports in sheltered waters, as pirates try to blend in with local traffic and vessels wrongly interpret the actions of local small boat traffic.