NATO Shipping Centre Records Two Incidents in HRA

NATO Shipping Centre Records Two Piracy Related Incidents in HRA

During the past week the NATO Shipping Centre received reports on two incidents involving fishing vessels in the High Risk Area. The first is a report of a pirated fishing vessel, while the second incident appears to be a SOLAS related accident.

The first report confirms that pirates continue to display both a capability and intent to conduct operations within the Horn of Africa and Somali Basin. Therefore, vessels transiting the area must remain vigilant and use prudent actions to counter pirate activity and report incidents in a timely manner.

In the first instance the Iranian fishing vessel, AL HUSSAINI was reportedly hijacked IVO Socotra Island sometime in late May (no further information available). The vessel was consequently used to conduct approaches on merchant vessels for over 3 weeks. Once the vessel was basically depleted of all food and fuel the pirates left the vessel (10 – 11 Jun 13). The crew were able to contact the ship’s owner and who then contacted MRCC Mumbai. The vessel and crew are safe and were last reported being towed back to Kochi by an Indian Coast Guard vessel.

This event is a clear example of why it is important to follow the operating procedures in accordance with BMP 4. Early engagement with UKMTO is critical in order to ensure the various Counter Piracy organizations can mobilize assets and identify pirates at sea. Based on the current available timings and locations  the movements of the vessel cannot be accurately  recreated and understood where it was operating however the NATO Shipping Centre is working with a variety of agencies in an effort to build a more comprehensive understanding of the incident. Without knowing where the vessel was operating the Center is unable to identify any approaches on merchant vessels which could be attributed to the pirates who hijacked the AL HUSSAINI, nor can it provide any warnings with any kind of area accuracy. Without timely reporting follow on warnings and movement of counter piracy assets is not possible.

The second incident appears to be a SOLAS incident involving the Taipei flagged fishing vessel CHUN YING. The vessel was reported missing and when an associated fishing vessel discovered the CHUN YING burned out and abandoned Counter-Piracy assets were made aware of the location. Within 24 hours a long range Maritime Patrol Aircraft located a life raft with an unknown number of personnel. There were a total of 31 persons onboard the CHUN YING (28 crew and a 3 person security detail). At time of release there is no further information nor is there any evidence that this is more than a fire at sea resulting in the crew having to abandon ship. The event was reported to the appropriate Rescue Coordination Centre and help is enroute.

The South west monsoon conditions will continue to dominate the region until sometime in the fall when the weather system will breakdown and transition to the North east monsoon season. Until then the overall forecast for small boat / skiff operations is unfavourable along the East Coast of Somalia extending from the tip of the Horn of Africa down through the Somali Basin.

Press release, June 27, 2013; Image: NATO