piracy summary indian ocean

Weekly Maritime Crime and Piracy Update, plus Naval Intel Advisory

Rob Almeida
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August 25, 2011

The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) assesses Somali pirates will resume a high level of operations when the southwest monsoon subsides in September 2011 and corresponding seas become conducive for small boat operations. Pirates will continue to evolve their tactics, techniques, and procedures in an attempt to circumvent defensive measures of commercial shipping and in response to patrolling naval forces.  Pirates will attack targets of opportunity, regardless of their flag, vessel profile, crew composition, or cargo.  Pirates will routinely operate in major shipping lanes, to include those off the Indian coast, in the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, leading into/out of Kenya and Tanzania, and in the Arabian Sea.  Anchorage areas in the region are not exempt from the threat posed by pirates.  Pirates will conduct attacks with skiffs and will operate from shore at great distances with the use of a variety of motherships – to include whalers, dhows, commercial fishing vessels, captured merchant ships, and potentially, the use of cattle transport vessels.  ONI recommends vessels transiting the region adhere to Best Management Practices (BMP).

piracy summary indian ocean

Summary of Worldwide Maritime Crime and Piracy, week of 18 – 24 August 2011 (Source: ONI)

ECUADOR: A chemical tanker was robbed 19 August at 0155 LT while anchored in Esmeraldas anchorage. Duty watchman noticed three robbers on the forecastle deck. One of the robbers threatened the watchman with a long knife. The watchman informed the duty officer on the bridge, who then raised the alarm. After the crew was alerted the robbers escaped with ship stores. (IMB)

BENIN: A chemical tanker was hijacked 20 August at 2325 UTC while conducting ship-to-ship (STS) operations in position 05:38N – 002:39E, approximately 44NM southeast of Cotonou, Benin. Twelve pirates boarded, took control of the ship, and sailed to an unknown location. Owners were unable to contact the vessel. Awaiting further details. (IMB)


  • Container ship (MSC NAMIBIA II) was fired upon 23 August at 0541 UTC while underway in position 13:08N 049:11E, approximately 83NM south of Al Mukalla, Yemen. Five pirates in a white skiff fired an RPG at the vessel. The master raised the alarm, increased speed, and engaged in evasive maneuvers. The pirates aborted the attack after 20 minutes. The vessel’s 27 crewmembers included two Greeks and 25 Filipinos. (IMB, Operator, UKMTO)
  • Chemical tanker (AL BALAD) was fired upon on 21 August at 1454 UTC while underway in position 16:09N – 053:36E, approximately 58NM southwest of Salalah, Oman. Pirates in a skiff attempted to board a tanker. The Master raised the alarm, increased speed, and engaged in evasive maneuvers. The pirates then aborted the attack. A mother vessel was sighted in the vicinity. (IMB, UKMTO)

ARABIAN SEA: Chemical tanker (FAIRCHEM BOGEY) hijacked on 20 August at 0108 UTC while anchored in position 16:54N – 054:03E at the Salalah anchorage, Oman. The pirates took all 21 Indian crewmembers hostage. (IMB, UKMTO)

INDONESIA: A bulk carrier was robbed 20 August at 0225 LT while berthed in position 03:47.3N – 098:42.1E in Belewan Port, Indonesia. Two robbers boarded the vessel during cargo operations. Four crewmembers on security watch and the second officer on the gangway rushed to the poop deck after hearing a loud knocking sound. The pirates pushed the second officer after he tried to stop them, threw a big heavy black bag ashore, and escaped with ship’s properties. (IMB)


Indian Ocean Piracy and Weather Forecast 25 August – 1 Sept 2011

A. GULF OF ADEN: Monsoonal effects within the GOA have begun to subside. Western and central portions show minimal seas ranging from 1 – 3 feet, slowly increasing as you transit east. The extreme eastern portion of the GOA still shows moderate sea heights (4 – 6 feet) mostly associated with the increased sea state of the Somali Basin. Expect continuous winds from the southwest of 10 – 15 knots and higher gusts through next 72 hours.

EXTENDED FORECAST: Minimal sea heights will continue through 01 Sept throughout most of the GOA. Expect the extreme eastern portion to continue to show increased heights as the monsoonal flow continues in the Somali Basin. Southwest winds 10 – 15 knots with higher gusts will continue through 01 Sept. Based on sea heights for the forecast week, expect conditions to be conducive for small boat/piracy operations within most of the GOA through 01 Sept. 

B. SOMALI COAST/NORTH ARABIAN SEA: The highest sea heights (9 – 12 feet) cover a region from the north-central Somali coast northwest into the central Arabian Sea. Sea heights notably decrease (5 – 7 feet) within central and southern portions of the Somali Basin, as well as waters off Oman and Pakistan. Sustained south-southwest winds of 22 – 26 knots with higher gusts will remain over the Somali Basin through the next 72 hours.  North Arabian Sea winds range from 14 – 18 knots with higher gusts from the southwest.

EXTENDED FORECAST: Monsoonal flow continues in the Somali Basin and North Arabian Sea. Expect area sea heights to remain high off the northern Somali coast and into the Arabian Sea. Moderate sea heights will continue around Oman and Pakistan. South-southwest winds 22 – 26 knots with higher gusts will continue through 01 Sept in the Somali Basin. Winds in the North Arabian Sea will continue from the southwest 14 – 18 knots with higher gusts through 01 Sept. Severe winds and sea heights will continue to create conditions non-conducive for small boat/piracy operations through the forecast period. 

C. INDIAN OCEAN: Coastal waters off Kenya as well as waters south of the equator extending east into the Indian Ocean have increased sea heights and will remain moderate through 01 September with sea heights ranging from 5 – 8 feet. Coastal waters off the Tanzania coast and south to Mozambique are currently moderate. Increasing eastern flow south of the equator in the Indian Ocean will increase sea heights off of Tanzania and Kenya by 28 Aug. Expect minimal seas within the Mozambique Channel through 28 Aug. Moderate heights exist off the Indian coast. Decreasing winds over next 72 hours will lead to a large region of minimal seas (3 – 5 feet) within the central Indian Ocean, north of the equator.

EXTENDED FORECAST:  Expect the above conditions to persist through all areas through 01 Sept. Based on this forecast, the waters of the Mozambique Channel as well as the large region in the Indian Ocean north of the equator will prove to be the most conducive for small boat/piracy operations.

D. SURFACE CURRENTS: Currents within the Somalia Basin and into the Indian Ocean are variable with most areas having average speeds of less than 2 knots. Areas of increased speeds up to 5.5 knots occur from the equator to 11N along the Somali coast. Currents within the Gulf of Aden are variable with all areas having speeds of less than 2 knots.

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