Armed guards deter pirates in two incidents

DECEMBER 9, 2013 — Two incidents today demonstrate that Somali pirates remain active and that, ultimately, action by embarked armed security teams may be all that can prevent an attack from becoming a hijacking.

In its most recent weekly update the Nato Shipping Center warned that "current conditions are favorable to piracy activity, and the presence of pirate attack groups at sea in the HRA [High Risk Area] cannot be ruled out. The threat of piracy against merchant shipping continues throughout the HRA. Successful disruptions by naval forces, in conjunction with masters' adherence and implementation of BMP4, have significantly reduced the pirates' ability to capture vessels. Pirates retain capability of conducting acts of piracy against vessels of opportunity."

The warning was timely. Today, NATO Shipping Center reported "Two Merchant Vessels reported same skiff, white and blue colored hull, approached and attacked them IWO of position 1252N 04752E at 090452ZDEC. Vessels are Safe."

The IMB's Piracy Reporting Center gave the following details.

248-13     09.12.2013: 0330 UTC: Posn: 12:50N – 047:49E, Gulf of Aden.

Five pirates armed with guns in a skiff approached and fired upon a tanker underway. Master raised alarm, activated fire hoses, increased speed, took evasive maneuvers and contacted UKMTO for assistance. The on-board armed security team took their position and showed their weapons resulting in the pirates aborting the attempted attack. A military helicopter came to the location for assistance and patrolled the area.

09.12.2013: 0348 UTC: Posn: 12:52.5N – 047:52.4E, Gulf of Aden.

Five pirates armed with guns in a skiff approached a bulk carrier underway. Master raised alarm, activated fire hoses, sounded ship's horn, took evasive maneuvers and non-essential crew members mustered in the citadel. The on-board armed security team took their position and showed their weapons but the skiff continued to approach the ship even after the armed team fired a warning flare towards the skiff. The security team fired warning shots as the skiff closed to the ship. The pirates responded by engaging the ship with small fire arms and the security team returned fire resulting in the pirates aborting the attempted attack. A military helicopter came to the location for assistance.