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Piracy situation risk assessment, May 2013, Issue 13 Highlights of the past month: 

In April the armed pirates’ activity was sharply increasing in the second half of the month. There were seven incidents reported in Gulf of Guinea including kidnapping of nine crew members. There is also rising trend of armed attacks on Asian Seas where at least three such incidents were reported.

There was one incident reported near Somalia. Despite a drop in overall attack figures, Somali piracy still poses a significant threat as criminals remain heavily armed and eager to hijack. The situation towards stability in Somalia has not improved despite the high hopes of international community.

After more than two years of captivity, the six sailors who were kidnapped by Somali pirates in the hijacking of the Danish cargo ship MV Leopard in January 2011, released and taken to safety.

Latest incidents: NIGERIA: On 30 March, the tanker SEA HERMES was fired upon at 03:57 N – 006:41 E, approximately 22 nm south-southwest of Bonny. A small skiff containing 8-10 pirates was sighted fast approaching the tankers starboard bow. Master and duty officer flashed a light and shouted on the suspicious craft. Upon seeing the crew’s alertness, the suspicious craft immediately moved away while firing upon the ship. No crew injuries sustained. Bullet marks in starboard bridge wing, accommodation, and one floodlight. SOMALIA: On 02 April, the cargo ship ALPHA KIRAWIRA was fired upon at 00:52 N– 044:01 E, approximately 13nm South of Baraawe. Around seven to eight armed pirates in a skiff approached and fired upon a general cargo ship underway. The on board armed security team fired warning shots resulting in the pirates moving away.

INDONESIA: 03.04.2013: 0330 LT: Posn: 01:43S 116:39E, Adang Bay Anchorage, Indonesia. Two robbers armed with a gun and knives boarded a bulk carrier from the forecastle and took hostage the duty crew at knife point. D/O called him on walkie-talkie but 1/4


did not receive any response. Another crew was sent immediately from the stern to check the forward part. When he arrived the duty crew was found tied-up. The D/O was alerted and he raised the alarm. Two speed boats were seen departing from the vessel. All crew mustered and went forward to investigate. It was found ship’s stores had been stolen from the forward store. SIERRA LEONE: On 11 April, the anchored cargo ship RMS BAERL was boarded at 08:30 N – 013:11 W at Freetown Inner Roads. Master on board the anchored general cargo ship noticed a boat approaching and sent the able bodied seaman (AB) to investigate. Master then noticed, eight robbers already on board had detained the AB and laid him on the deck at knife point. Master then raised the alarm and went forward to assist the AB with the help of another crewmember. While attempting to assist the AB, the robbers threatened them, forcing their retreat into the accommodation area, where the Master called the security vessel. By the time the security vessel arrived on the scene, the robbers had already escaped with stolen ship stores GULF OF GUINEA: On 16 April, the underway tanker CAP THEODORA was fired upon at 01:48 N – 006:46 E approximately 36 nm west-northwest of Principe Island. The crew raised the alarm, activated the SSAS, initiated distress signals, and started the fire pump. Crew then proceeded to their emergency stations and citadel, while the master increased the vessel’s speed and initiated evasive maneuvers. After approximately 20 minutes, the skiff aborted the attack and moved away. NIGERIA: 22.04.2013: 2240 LT: Posn: 02:31N – 006:50E, Around 133nm South of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Armed pirates boarded a container ship underway. They kidnapped four crew members and escaped. No injuries were reported to the remaining crew members who sailed the ship to Senegal.

GULF OF GUINEA: On April 22, around 6:55 local time, CAP THEODORA-tanker was attacked by speedboat with 5 or 6 people inside. The ship carrying crude oil under the Greek flag company EURONAV was attacked twice in less than a month by pirates. The incident happened in the Gulf of Guinea, and probably both unsuccessful attempts were made by the same group. The attack was repulsed by a group hired to protect the safety of the ship in the area of the company. Just a week ago, a similar boat attempted attack, which was also defeated.

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INDONESIA: 23.04.2013: 0407 LT: Posn: 01:19N – 104:47E, Around 15nm NE of Bintan Island, Indonesia. Five pirates armed with a pistol and long knives in a high speed wooden craft approached and boarded an asphalt tanker underway. They stole cash and crew personnel effects and escaped. Master raised the alarm and attempted to contact the coastal authority but received no respond. No injuries to crew.

SOUTH CHINA SEA: 24.04.2013: 0330 LT: Posn: 01:36N – 105:23E, South China Sea. Fifteen pirates armed with guns and long knives in three high speed boats boarded a tug underway. They took hostage nine crew members, assaulted some of the crew and tied them up. They ransacked all cabins, stole vessel’s properties, crew members’ cash and personal belongings and escaped. NIGERIA: 24.04.2013: 2345 LT: Posn: 03:51.3N – 005:40.5E, 40nm SW of Brass, Nigeria. Pirates in a speed boat chased and fired upon a container ship underway. The vessel increased speed and evaded the boarding.

NIGERIA: 25.04.2013: 2045 UTC: Posn: 04:10N – 005:30E, around 45nm WSW of Brass, Nigeria. Fourteen heavily armed pirates in two boats, one supply boat with the name UTAY 8 and the other is a speed boat with orange hull and blue wheelhouse approached and boarded a container ship underway. The ship raised alarm and crew took shelter in the citadel. The pirates were able to breach the citadel and they kidnapped the Master, C/O, C/E, 2/E and 3/E and escaped with ship's and crew cash. The remaining crew was reported safe.

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NIGERIA: 26.04.2013: 1830 UTC: Posn: 03:48N – 004:57E, Around 83nm WSW of Brass, Nigeria. Pirates in a boat attempted to attack a container ship underway. Master raised alarm, switched off all ship’s lights, altered course and increased speed. The boat chased the ship for one hour and aborted the attempted attack.

Summary and recommendations: 

There has been a heavy rise of armed attacks on Gulf of Guinea. The freedom and urge of criminals may be related on worsening security situation at North Nigeria where heavy clashes are occurring between State security forces and extremists. The pirates are also reaching more far to the seas, marking a distance of 133nm. The crews should exercise extreme caution and readiness to repel the attacks already from far away of the coast.

According to a range of experts, the figures showing a reduction in Somali piracy mask the true numbers – in fact in opening the 14th Combating Piracy conference, Chairman Giles Noakes of BIMCO stated “that there are rather more piracy attacks in the Gulf of Aden than we might suppose. It seems that statistics which show a fall in the region are somewhat misleading – while others call them downright wrong.” It is likely that most of the pirates groups of Somalia are still waiting for vessel owners to drop the armed guards below critical level to enable them to operate more freely soon. The threat is not gone; therefore all the vessels passing the region should exercise extreme caution and use the proper security settings.

The trend of armed attacks is likely in rise on Asian Seas near Malaysia and Indonesia. As the unrests progressing on land the more firearms are in use in the region and local security forces also less able to focus their efforts to the maritime domain. High security level should be maintained on vessels passing the area.

Sources: ICC, NATO, ONI, Shiptalk, Oceanus Live, SeaJobs, theBridge, Reuters, Maritime Executive

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