Aurora tanker crew safe after approach by skiffs in Gulf of Aden

Tradewinds on Feb. 25th carried the above headline, following two suspicious approaches in the Gulf of Aden on Feb. 20th and 22nd.

On Feb. 20th, a merchant vessel reported a suspicious approach by three skiffs at 1824 UTC in the vicinity of the IRTC, SE of Al Mukalla, Yemen. The skiffs approached to within 1nm. No piracy equipment was reportedly sighted in this incident.

On Feb. 22nd, UKMTO state that another merchant vessel reported a suspicious approach by 11 skiffs with 4-5 persons on board, near Djibouti at the western end of the Gulf of Aden. Ladders were reportedly sighted in the skiffs and the vessel’s armed security team fired warning shots to deter any further approach. Both vessels are now described as safe.

While not confirmed as piracy incidents, the reports come in the wake of suggestions by some analysts that armed security teams are become less necessary in the Indian Ocean. However, ongoing instability in the Red Sea and off Yemen in the Gulf of Aden continue to present a significant risk to merchant shipping, with the Saudi Arabian coalition reporting the interception of a suspected Houthi SVBIED (boat bomb) in the Red Sea over the weekend of Feb. 22-23.

As is often stated, pirates or other threat actors only need to be successful once. The maritime industry needs to remain vigilant and avoid complacency in order to ensure smooth passage in the region. Adherence to BMP 5 should be maintained and Masters entering the region must contact UKMTO to inform them.

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