(Updated:29 February 2012)
During the reporting period of 23–29 February 12 there have been three piracy related incidents: a dhow was hijacked (Alert 016/12), one merchant vessel was attacked (NSC 09/12), and one merchant vessel was approached by suspected pirates (NSC 08/12). As the monsoon period comes to an end and the sea state becomes more favourable for small boats, it is expected that Pirate Attack Group (PAG) activity will increase in the weather transition period.
Southern Red Sea (SRS)/Bab Al Mandeb (BAM) / Gulf of Aden (GOA)/Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC)
On 28 February 12, a merchant vessel was attacked by two white skiffs that came within 1nm and fired at the merchant vessel. Masters are advised to transit this area with extreme caution but are also reminded that the BAM and Southern Red Sea (SRS) are areas of high fishing activity. The fishing vessels may approach a merchant ship in order to maximise fishing opportunities and to warn ships from getting too close to their fishing nets. Masters are requested to ensure they distinguish between fishing vessels and potential pirates; fishermen may carry small arms.
Arabian Sea (AS)/Greater Somali Basin (SB)
PAGs are active in the North Arabian Sea, off the coast of Oman. On 28 February 12, a dhow was hijacked approximately 150nm north of Socotra Island, in vicinity of 15 01N 054 56E, and may be used as a mothership (Alert 016/12). Masters are advised that the hijacking of the MV LEILA was initiated by pirates claiming mechanical problems and seeking assistance. Also on 28 February 12, a merchant vessel was approached by one skiff approximately 120nm south of the coast of Oman, in vicinity of 16 03N 058 58E (NSC 08/12). The skiff closed to approximately two cables distance from the vessel before aborting its approach.
Masters are advised to proceed through these areas with extreme caution, and be advised that the PAGs responsible for the recent approaches in the north Arabian Sea are still believed to be in the area. Specific areas of known PAG locations can be found on our PAG map here: http://www.shipping.nato.int/operations/OS/Pages/PAGmap.aspx
Details of all of the alerts can be found on our Alert Details webpage: http://www.shipping.nato.int/Pages/AllAlerts.aspx
Counter Piracy Guidance Update
Successful disruptions by naval forces over the past few months, complemented by masters’ adherence and implementation of BMP4, have significantly reduced the pirates’ ability to capture vessels. However, pirates continue their attempts to hijack any vessels of opportunity; a reminder that piracy can occur at any time. In the northern SB and AS the preferred mother ships are local dhows, whereas in the southern SB, 8 metre whalers are preferred as mother ships.
Prudent and timely application of BMP4 can make the important difference of being approached, attacked, or pirated. If any incident occurs, Masters are requested to report immediately to UKMTO via telephone and provide the details of the incident. This will ensure the information is provided to other ships in the area for their awareness and vigilance. If Masters are safely able to take pictures and/or video of the suspicious activity, please provide these via email to UKMTO (firstname.lastname@example.org), the NATO Shipping Centre (email@example.com) and MSCHOA (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Allied Command Operations