Oil tanker attacked in Bab-el-Mandeb strait

Three men in a skiff approached a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker in the southern Bab-el-Mandeb strait and opened fire on it on May 31, EU NAVFOR has confirmed.

The vessel’s master reported that the attackers fired three rocket-propelled grenades, before breaking off the attack.

The onboard armed security team fired warning shots forcing the skiff to move away, according to the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) centre.

The tanker is now safe and en route to her next port.

“EU NAVFOR has not received any information that confirms that piracy-related tripwires/equipment were observed during the attack,” EU NAVFOR spokesperson, Commander Jacqui Sherriff said.

“This indicates that the incident is more probably related to the continuing instability at sea off the coast of Yemen. That said, masters of merchant vessels transiting the piracy high risk area are reminded to remain vigilant, adhere to Best Management Practices (BMP) and to report any suspicious activity at sea to the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) centre.”

The incident is the latest in a series of attacks on merchant vessels in the region. 2017 has seen an upsurge of attacks off the coasts of Somalia and Yemen with at least two attacks resulting in vessels being hijacked by pirates.