Pirates move south: recent attacks a cause for concern

Posted: 09/29/2011 in all marine news

David Rider – 

The International Maritime Bureau had previously warned of potential activity in the area and, ironically, on the day of the first attempted attack (as described by the IMB’s Live Piracy Reporting Centre), September 21st, Defence analyst Helmeod-Römer Heitman told a security seminar in Pretoria that: “Both sides [of the channel] are not particularly densely populated, are seriously under-policed and there is a lot of shipping going through.”

The two incidents we draw attention to took place on September 21st and 23rd in the area of the Glorioso Islands in the Northern Mozambique Channel, off the coast of Madagascar.

In the attempted attack on September 21st, the IMB report stated that the crew of a container ship underway at position 12:46.6S-046:18.5E spotted two skiffs at 0643 UTC, with three to four people aboard each skiff at a distance of approximately 1.5nm. The skiffs increased speed to around 18 knots and approached the container ship from different sides. The vessel carried out evasive manoeuvres and enforced anti-piracy measures which led to the skiffs breaking off their pursuit after around 25 minutes.

The second attempted attack, on September 23rd, took place at 0850 UTC, when a bulk carrier underway at position 12:16.1S-043:19.5E noticed two blue-coloured skiffs at a distance of approximately 1nm. The Master raised the alarm and alerted the armed security team onboard the carrier.

The skiffs approached at a speed of 20 knots and the IMB report notes that the occupants were armed with RPG- 7s. As the skiffs came to within 300 metres of the bulk carrier, they spotted the armed security team, reduced their approach speed and circled the vessel for a few minutes before moving away. No shots were reportedly fired by the armed Vessel Protection Team.

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