Overview of week of 22-28 December 2011.
During the reporting period of 22-28 December 2011 pirate activity against vessels was low. One vessel was hijacked on 27 December approximately 50NM off the coast of Oman in the vicinity of 1818N 05736E. Details can be found in Alert 250. Masters are reminded that the threat of piracy is always present in the High Risk Area (HRA) and are advised to implement self-protection measures as recommended in Best Management Practices (BMP4). Prudent and timely application of BMP can make the important difference of being approached, attacked, or being pirated.
On 22 December a suspicious approach by two skiffs was reported in the Central Arabian Sea in the vicinity of 1122N 06333E. On 26 December, three skiffs were reported behaving in a suspicious manner in the Gulf of Oman approximately 30NM from the coast of Iran in the vicinity of 2458N 06020E.
One hijacked vessel was released and is currently underway to a safe port. Masters are advised to be vigilant as Pirate Attack Groups (PAGs) are active and waiting for the opportunity to attack merchant ships. Specific areas of concern are indicated on the PAG Map.
Southern Red Sea (SRS)/Bab Al Mandeb (BAM) / Gulf of Aden (GOA)/Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC)
The NE monsoon has increased wave height in the SRS, BAM, GOA, and IRTC areas, which has reduced piracy activity. These areas are still of concern as PAGs are known to be in these areas, and are likely to take advantage of short term favourable weather conditions to attack vessels of opportunity. Prudent and timely application of BMP can make the important difference of being approached, attacked, or being pirated. Pirate skiffs will continue to blend into local fishing traffic; thus this area remains a high threat region.
Arabian Sea (AS)/Greater Somali Basin (SB)
With the increasing NE monsoon, piracy activity in the Arabian Sea is expected to decline, although some regions of better weather closer to the coast may tempt some pirates to head out and attack vessels of opportunity.
Counter Piracy Guidance Update
Successful disruptions by counter piracy forces, complemented by masters' adherence and implementation of BMP, have significantly reduced the pirates' ability to capture vessels. 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 it has been noticed that the preferred mother ships are local dhows, whereas in the southern SB the preference is to use 8 metre whalers as mother ships.
Extra vigilance, implementation and adherence to BMP and Self-Protection Measures remain essential for all areas. Masters are encouraged to get as much detail as possible including photographs of any vessel acting in a suspicious manner. 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.