Merchant vessel boarded in Arabian Sea

An as yet unidentified merchant vessel is reported to have been boarded in the Arabian Sea between Somalia and Yemen. The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organization (UKMTO) confirmed that it had received the report and said that it was currently working with the authorities to investigate the situation.

Maritime security firm Ambrey said that the vessel reportedly seized was a Liberia-flagged bulk carrier, and that it had been boarded by armed individuals 458 miles southeast of Eyl, Somalia. It said that the vessel had been heading for Khalifa bin Salman in Bahrain.

UKMTO placed the vessel approximately 460 miles to the east of Eyl, Somalia. Their alert said that five to six armed individuals were aboard the vessel and that the crew of the ship was retreating to the secure citadel onboard.

The only vessel IMN could find that fits the description given by Ambrey is the Lila Norfolk (IMO 9281700),which left Porto Do Acu, Brazil, on December 6th. It had been scheduled to arrive in Khalifa Bin Salman on January 12th. However, no official confirmation as to its identity could be obtained, so at the time of writing this is still a matter of speculation.

In December 2023 a group of pirates boarded Malta-registered Navibulgar vessel Ruen in a similar location, approximately 380nm east of the island of Socotra, Yemen. The crew was able to secure themselves but later reports said the pirates broke into the citadel. The vessel was taken to the coast of Somalia, first in the north and then further south, where it continues to be held.

Since December, in addition to the Navibulgar vessel, five small fishing vessels were reported as being seized, and the suspicion was that these were going to be used s mother ships for the hijacking of larger commercial vessels out to sea.

2006-built, Liberia-flagged, 84,448 gt Lila Norfolk is owned by AVR Shipping Ltd care of Kyra Global Marine Services DMCC of Dubai, UAE. It is entered with West (Claims Team Greece) on behalf of AVR Ltd.