A maritime security alert has been issued for the Bab el Mandeb Straits after a bulk carrier was reportedly approached by a group of ten skiffs at 0430 local time on 27 February in position 12:29N – 043:41E.
Reports suggest nine skiffs approached from the starboard side and one from port, but were ultimately deterred by a series of warning shots fired from the vessel. The incident followed a similar unsuccessful attack in the vicinity on 15 February, when a chemical tanker was approached by a group of seven skiffs.
Vessels were first ‘swarmed’ by large groups of skiffs attempting to overpower vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the Bab el Mandeb Straits in 2011; the tactic is likely to be repeated as pirates attempt to overcome the low success rates achieved in recent months. Early detection of such attacks is crucial to allow time for speed to be increased and evasive manoeuvres to be taken before deploying any security measures available.