Following a report filed on Sunday August 7th by the IMB Live Piracy Reporting Centre, which saw suspected Somali pirates at 13:02N 043:07E attempt to hijack a vessel off the coast of Eritrea in large numbers, Neptune Maritime Security raised concerns over this apparent change of tactics.
Unfortunately, it would indeed appear that pirates in the area are banding together in an attempt to ‘swarm’ vessels. On Thursday August 18th, the IMB Live Piracy Reporting Centre listed an attempted hijacking* on a bulk carrier underway around 22nm NE of Assab, Eritrea in the Red Sea at 13:16N 043:01E. Interestingly, this is approximately 26.19km North of the attack on August 7th, and could suggest that this large group of pirates have a specific area of operations.
The report states that seven high-speed boats suddenly approached the carrier and that each boat contained three to five men, each armed with automatic weapons. This mirrors the previous attack of August 7th, which saw an estimated 60 pirates mount an unsuccessful attack on a vessel protected by an armed security team. Even underestimating the number of pirates in Wednesday’s attack to just 21, it would still seem to confirm that pirate gangs have adopted a new tactic of mass attacks in the waters surrounding Eritrea. Intelligence sources suggest that this new trend may be a consequence of the monsoon season, but without further data, it is difficult to confirm.
In Wednesday’s incident, the Master increased the speed of the bulk carrier and adopted evasive manoeuvres while the crew, with the exception of the bridge team, mustered in the Citadel.
Fortunately, the pirates aborted their attack and moved away. However, Neptune Maritime Security would like to bring this tactic to the attention of all shipping companies and seafarers who intend to transit the area.
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