A second skiff sighting in a Gulf of Aden transit corridor in less than two weeks is prompting maritime security alerts to shipping.
An advisory from the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) issued Thursday said it has received reports of approximately 8 speed boats maneuvering near the eastern entrance to the Gulf of Aden Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC).
The report follows a February 24 UKMTO alert that approximately 10-12 small boats with up to 6 persons on each had been spotted in the same general area.
In all cases, vessels and crew have been safe.
The area of the sightings, known as IRTC Point B, is the eastern entrance to the Gulf of Aden Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) which was established in 2009 in response to the extreme threat of Somali-based piracy. The IRTC is 492 miles long with an eastbound and westbound lane measuring five miles wide where naval assets are concentrated. It is patrolled by the Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151), working alongside European Union Naval Force Somalia (EU NAVFOR), and other partners. Merchant ships are strongly encouraged to use the IRTC.
The latest sightings come as the shipping industry has removed its “High Risk Area” (HRA) designation for the western Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, and southern Red Sea, as of January 1, 2023, thanks to a lull in Somali piracy incidents.
The Indian Ocean HRA was established in 2010 at the height of Somali piracy, helping to end the scourge of piracy and re-establish the free flow of commerce in the region
According to CTF 151, the last attack by Somali-based pirates took place in April 2019 and was ultimately unsuccessful. The last successful piracy attack was in Spring 2017, marking just the first hijacking since 2012.
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