If there was ever a good reason to heed naval forces’ warnings about the continuing threat from Somali piracy, then an attack on a super tanker is surely one of them. A fully laden super tanker was attacked by eight armed pirates recently, 230 miles off the Somali coast, with the attack only being thwarted by the armed security team on board.
Because of their vulnerability, it is highly recommended that all sailing yachts, under their own passage, should remain out of the High Risk Area (Southern Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean).
Whilst it is recognised that the levels of piracy have dropped over the past 18 months, due in no small part to the successful coordination and cooperation between naval forces and the maritime community, it is clear from these latest incidents that the pirates are still able and willing to get out to sea. The fragile situation in Somalia has not changed, and pirates know that there are still life changing riches to be made at sea. If given an opportunity to attack a ship, they will take it, actively hunting ‘soft’ targets.
It is estimated that over $330 million dollars was paid in ransoms between 2009 and 2012. The pirates only have to be lucky once, vessels sailing in the high risk area have to be vigilant every time. Pirates will exploit any perceived weakness in military response and vessels’ self-protection.
Representatives of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), the Cruising Association, Ocean Cruising Club, Royal Cruising Club, Royal Yachting Association and the Royal yacht Squadron were invited recently to come to the EU Naval Force Operational HQ, to discuss the on-going piracy threat for sailing yachts in the Indian Ocean. This was the 5th such meeting between the naval forces, including NATO and Combine Maritime Forces and the Yachting Community.
Following the meeting, a new advisory for yachts was issued and can be viewed at: http://www.mschoa.org/docs/public-documents/yachting-piracy-bulletin-final-version.pdf?sfvrsn=2