There's good news and bad news in the latest Office of Naval Intelligence report on worldwide threats to shipping. The report shows that while there have been a lot of incidents in the Red Sea and the waters off the Horn of Africa - 14 in the last month by the ONI's reckoning - the vast majority have not resulted in any actual boardings. As well, there are only two listed incidents since June 22, a likely result of the effects the southwest monsoon is having on sea conditions in the region. That's the good news.
The bad news comes from the number of attacks reported off West Africa and Southeast Asia in the last month: There are 17 incidents reported in those two regions, the vast majority of which resulted in successful boardings and robberies, with a great degree of violence being used by the attackers against the merchant crews. In three cases, the attackers were numerous in number - 12 pirates in one case, 15 in the second and 16 in the third.
Here's an edited breakdown of reported incidents in the ONI report (sources of each incident are reported in brackets):
INDIAN OCEAN-EAST AFRICA:
1. BAB EL MANDEB: Tanker reported suspicious approach 19 Jun 09 at 1220 UTC while underway in position 12:38N – 043:21E. Armed men in skiffs chased the vessel while underway. The captain raised the alarm, sounded the whistle, and conducted evasive maneuvers. The crew mustered and activated fire hoses. The men in the skiffs abandoned the pursuit due to evasive maneuvers and the repeated calls to nearby coalition forces (IMB).
2. GULF OF ADEN: Bulk carrier (HORIZON I) hijacked 8 Jul 09 at 0530 UTC while underway in position 13:44N – 050:43E. Owners have verbally confirmed that pirates have taken hostage of crewmembers and are now sailing the vessel. There are currently 23 Turkish crewmembers onboard (IMB, AFP).
3. GULF OF ADEN: Tanker (MAERSK PHOENIX) fired upon 22 Jun 09 at 0910 local time while underway in position 13:29N – 050:20E. Approximately six to eight armed men in a white skiff approached the vessel and fired at it with an RPG. The vessel conducted evasive maneuvers to prevent a boarding. A NATO warship was sighted and the vessel proceeded toward the warship for assistance. The skiff turned away when the warship began pursuing it. The warships fired several shots at the skiff before the armed men finally surrendered (Operator, IMB, AFP).
4. GULF OF ADEN: General cargo vessel (BOLAN) fired upon 22 Jun 09 at 0850 local time while underway in position 13:33N – 050:19E. Two small white skiffs with four to five armed men onboard chased and opened fire on the vessel while underway. The captain raised the alarm and mustered the crew. The vessel conducted evasive maneuvers and fired rocket flares. Coalition forces in the area were also informed. A NATO warship in the vicinity responded and chased the skiffs before eventually capturing the armed men (Operator, IMB, AFP).
5. GULF OF ADEN: Tanker fired upon 15 June 09 at 1305 local time while underway in position 12:58N – 048:27E. One skiff approached the vessel to within about ten meters and fired with gun and RPG rounds. The vessel conducted evasive maneuvers and the skiff eventually broke away and fled the scene. An Iranian warship arrived on scene in about 20 minutes followed by a coalition helicopter later (Operator, IMB).
6. GULF OF ADEN: Tanker fired upon 14 June 09 at 1700 local time while underway in position 12:33N – 043:29E, near Bab el Mandeb. Several speed boats approached the vessel, crossed its bow, and opened fire with automatic weapons. The tanker performed evasive maneuvers to prevent the men from boarding (Operator, IMB).
7. GULF OF ADEN: Tanker reported suspicious approach 14 June 09 at 1740 local time while underway in position 12:58N – 043: 09E. Four speed boats with five to six persons in each armed with automatic weapons approached the vessel. The tanker performed evasive maneuvers and activated fire hoses on deck. The speed boats later aborted the pursuit (Operator, IMB).
8. GULF OF ADEN: Tanker reported suspicious approach 14 June 09 at 1435 UTC while underway in position 12:25N – 043:28E. Several skiffs chased the vessel but aborted after the tanker applied anti-piracy measures to prevent boarding (Operator, IMB).
9. GULF OF ADEN: Bulk carrier reported suspicious approach 14 June 09 at 1453 UTC while underway in position 12:59N – 043:09E. Vessel took evasive maneuvers to prevent possible boarding (Operator, IMB).
10. GULF OF ADEN: Chemical tanker reported suspicious approach 13 June 09 at 0110 local time while underway in position 12:36N – 043: 25E. Vessel performed evasive maneuvers and contacted coalition warships via VHF channel 16. The skiffs later aborted the pursuit (Operator, IMB).
11. OMAN: General cargo ship (CHARELLE) hijacked 12 June 09 at 1334 UTC while underway in position 21:55N – 059:51E, approximately 11NM off the coast of Oman. An unknown number of armed men boarded and hijacked the vessel after pursuing it for some time (Operator, IMB, UPI).
12. OMAN: Bulk carrier reported attempted boarding 10 June 09 at 1420 UTC while underway in position 18:41N – 058: 01E, approximately 20NM off Ras al Madrakah. Approximately ten men armed with automatic weapons and an RPG in two speed boats chased the vessel and attempted to board with a hooked latter. The vessel master sounded the ship’s whistle, activated the ship’s fire hoses and performed evasive maneuvers to prevent boarding (Operator, IMB).
13. INDIAN OCEAN: Bulk carrier reported suspicious approach 4 Jul 09 at 1800 UTC while underway in position 14:51.3N – 058:29.8E, approximately 220NM southeast of Sawqirah, Oman. The master of the vessel reported that one small boat approached the vessel during bad weather conditions with very rough seas and allegedly fired an RPG. The master conducted evasive maneuvers, increased speed, and managed to elude the boat. ONI Comment: UKMTO contacted the master after the incident and was unable to confirm an attack. No weapons seen, no damage confirmed to date, and no attempt to board was noted (IMB, UKMTO, ONI).
14. INDIA: Vessel robbed 29 Jun 09 at 2330 local time while alongside an oil terminal, Cochin. While discharging cargo under heavy rain, the duty officer noticed movements on the forecastle deck. He ordered the deck watchmen to check. Upon arrival, they noticed three robbers stealing ship’s stores. Realizing they had been noticed, the robbers jumped overboard into a waiting boat and escaped with ship’s stores (IMB).
1. RED SEA: Bulk carrier reported suspicious approach 18 Jun 09 at 1500 UTC while underway in position 16:00N – 041:24E, approximately 110NM northwest of Al Hudaydah, Yemen. Thirty men in three speed boats armed with guns and RPGs reportedly chased the vessel while underway. The ship raised the alarm, sounded the whistle, mustered the crew, and conducted evasive maneuvers. The speed boats abandoned their pursuit a short time later (IMB).
1. ATLANTIC OCEAN: General cargo ship reported attempted boarding 30 Jun 09 at 0500 UTC while underway in position 11:20N – 017:15W, approximately 60NM off the coast of Guinea Bissau. Twelve armed men in a boat reportedly attempted to board the vessel while underway. Due to the quick action and defensive measures by the master and crew, the armed men were unable to board and aborted their attempt (IMB).
2. CÔTE D’IVOIRE: Bulk carrier boarded 29 June 09 at 0200 UTC while anchored in position 05:12.98N – 004:02.98W, Abidjan anchorage. Two robbers boarded the vessel and cut the ship’s line in an attempt to steal it. One robber then approached the duty watch man with a long sharp knife when the watch man sighted and shouted at the robbers. The watch man ran away and raised the ship’s alarm. The robbers escaped with nothing stolen and there were no injuries reported (IMB).
3. NIGERIA: Chemical tanker (SIEHEM PEACE) boarded, crew members kidnapped 5 Jul 09 at 2045 local time while underway, approximately 20NM from Escravos. The militant organization MEND claimed it seized the six crew members from the vessel and would hold the crew until further notice. The group also claimed it had destroyed a strategic Chevron facility. There were no indications of casualties (AP, Bloomberg).
4. NIGERIA: Bulk carrier fired upon, boarded 27 Jun 09 at 2200 UTC while anchored in fairway buoy, Lagos. Armed robbers attempted to board the vessel using hooks and ropes. Noticing the robber, the ship’s crew tried to drive away the attackers. One robber managed to board but was forced back. In the attempt to board, the robbers fired automatic weapons at the vessel injuring three crew members. The injured were sent ashore for medical treatment (IMB).
5. NIGERIA: Bulk carrier robbed 10 June 09 at 0545 UTC while anchored in position 04:01N - 006:48E, approximately 20NM off Nigeria. Five heavily armed robbers boarded the vessel using a hook attached to a rope. Once on board, they fired warning shots and threatened to take the master hostage. Approximately a half hour later, the robbers left the vessel with the crew and ship’s cash as well as any property of value (IMB).
6. CAMEROON: Cargo vessel robbed 9 June 09 at 0324 UTC while at anchorage in Douala. Sixteen robbers armed with guns and knives damaged communication equipment and stole all cash located on the vessel. Three crewmembers were injured in the incident (IMB).
7. CAMEROON: Tanker robbed 9 June 09 at 0224 UTC while underway near Douala anchorage. Robbers disabled communication equipment, stole all money on board an escaped. The 3rd officer was injured in the incident. (IMB)
1. BANGLADESH: Container ship robbed 6 Jul 09 at 1804 UTC while anchored in position 22:11N – 091:46E, Chittagong anchorage. The duty officer detected some boats near the stern of the vessel at anchor. The crew mustered and saw 15 robbers on board. A duty watchman was tied up and had been attacked with iron bars. The robbers stole ship’s stores and escaped. The master reported the incident to port control (IMB).
2. BANGLADESH: Bulk carrier robbed 19 Jun 09 at 1220 UTC while berthed in Chittagong port. While reading the forward drafts from the jetty, the officer on duty was robbed of his personal belongings. The officer called for help but the robber managed to escape by jumping into the water (IMB).
3. BANGLADESH: Container ship robbed 19 Jun 09 at 0400 local time while anchored in position 22:10N – 091:46E, Chittagong anchorage. Armed robbers boarded the vessel using hooks and lines while another two remained in a nearby boat. They threatened the duty watchman with knives and tied him up with rope. They then stole ship’s stores and escaped (IMB).
4. BANGLADESH: Bulk carrier robbed 12 Jun 09 at 0300 local time while anchored in position 22:14N – 091:42E, Chittagong anchorage. Four robbers boarded the vessel while four others waited in a nearby boat. The men climbed onboard using a hook and line and threatened the crew with knives. The robbers escaped with ship’s stores (IMB).
5. SINGAPORE: Tug (SALVICEROY) boarded 22 Jun 09 at 1600 local time while anchored in position 01:08N – 103:35E, off Nipa transit anchorage. Seven robbers in a small wooden boat approached the portside of the vessel. Three of the robbers reportedly armed with automatic weapons and handguns, boarded the vessel. The crew immediately went into the accommodation areas and locked all access points to/from the deck. The crew remained inside the accommodation areas and sounded the alarm. The robbers attempted to enter the accommodation areas but failed after trying for about 10 minutes. Subsequently, the robbers left the tug boat in their wooden boat which was seen heading southwards. The robbers did not fire their weapons and the vessel was not damaged during the incident. No crewmembers on the vessel were injured. The incident was reported to the Singapore VTIS (ReCAAP).
6. INDONESIA: Bulk carrier reported attempted boarding 24 June 09 at 1930 UTC while anchored in position 01:20.2S – 117:02.8E, Balikpapan outer anchorage. Two robbers in a small boat attempted to board the vessel. The alert crew raised the alarm and sounded the ship’s whistle, causing the robbers to abort the attempt. The vessel master immediately notified the pilot station of the incident (IMB).
7. SOUTH CHINA SEA: General cargo ship (WHITE TOKIO) robbed 28 June 09 at 0115 local time while underway in position 01:57.18N – 104: 47.83E, approximately 34NM south of Pulau Aur, Malaysia. Six robbers boarded the vessel stealing all cash on board. No one was injured during the incident (ReCAAP).
8. SOUTH CHINA SEA: Tanker (SIGLOO DISCOVERY) robbed 27 June 09 at 0040 local time while underway in position 02:47.1N – 105:07.6E, approximately 33NM southwest of Pulau Mangkai. Six robbers armed with knives, crowbars and batons boarded the vessel via the bridge. They tied up the ship master, the 2nd officer, and the duty watchman with raffia strings and stole cash, a laptop computer, two mobile phones, and a wristwatch. The men were suspected to have climbed onto the vessel via a rope they tied between the stern and their wooden boat. The wooden boat used was approximately 8 meters in length and shaped like a long canoe. They later escaped in the wooden boat. The ship’s alarm was raised, SSAS activated and crew mustered. No injuries were reported (IMB, ReCAAP).
9. SOUTH CHINA SEA: General cargo ship robbed 25 June 09 at 1930 UTC while underway in position 02:58N – 105: 11E, approximately 25NM west of Mangkai Islands. Eight robbers armed with long knives and batons boarded the vessel and held the 2nd officer and duty watchman hostage. They stole cash and crew belongings before escaping in a small boat (IMB, Maritime Global Net).
10. SOUTH CHINA SEA: General cargo ship robbed 25 June 09 at 2140 local time while underway in position 02:58.3N – 105:14.2E, approximately 35NM southwest of Mangkai Islands. Five robbers boarded the vessel, stealing cash and personal belongings from the crew before escaping in a small boat (IMB).