Swedish Club has noted in a web alert that recent attacks against merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Bab-el-Mandeb highlight the fact that transits through these waters remained risky.
The Club said that, in addition to several attempts at piracy, attacks by small and high-speed boats using small arms, rocket propelled grenades, and significant amounts of explosives took place against MV Galicia Spirit in October 2016 and MT Muskie in May 2017. In the latter case the ship’s embarked security team was able
to thwart the attack. The small boats broke off their attack, with one boat exploding for an unknown reason at a safe distance from the Muskie.
Swedish Club said that, while these small-boat attacks were unsuccessful, the identity of the attackers remained unknown and they demonstrated a new threat to the maritime community.
The Combined Maritime Forces have said that they will be increasing the naval presence in the western Gulf of Aden, but Swedish Club said that it was important to note that attacks can develop rapidly; having warships positioned for an effective response depends on information provided by the shipping community.
Swedish Club has recommended that “all mariners sailing through the High Risk Area register their transits with the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA). In addition, vessels should report to UK’s Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) when entering the Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA) and immediately if witnessing any suspicious event.”
The Club said that this would give military forces in the area visibility on a vessel’s transit, allow accurate accounting and enhance the ability to respond to any sort of attack.