News Blogmaritime piracy

A foiled attack in the Red Sea. Piracy in “active standby” mode?

the Navarra frigate escorting a WFP ship - the World Food Program (credit: Eunavfor Atalanta)
the frigate Navarra escorting a WFP ship – the world food program (credit: Eunavfor Atalanta)

(BRUSSELS2) Even if the situation in the Indian Ocean has nothing to do with what was happening 2 or 3 years ago, the threat of piracy remains visible, as evidenced by an attack and another suspicious approach to two edges of the Gulf of Aden area and the Gulf of Oman, which occurred in recent days.

A bulk carrier was, in fact, attacked on Monday (August 18) in the Bab El Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea, while it was sailing between Eritrea (not far from Djibouti) and Yemen, in an area located at 12.52 north and 43.14 east. Four skiffs came quite close to the ship, about 1,5 nautical miles (about 2800 m.), maritime sources report, while a mother ship seemed to be parked not far away, about 4 miles away. The captain raised the alarm and began diversionary maneuvers – increased speed, avoidance – and sheltered unnecessary personnel in a “citadel”. The skiffs came as close as 0,5 miles. And there was no room for doubt about the intentions of the occupants of these boats. A ladder was visible in one of the skiffs with 6 people on board. The private security guards, present on board the merchant ship, had to show their weapons - without it being possible to know whether there was direct fire - to get the attackers to turn back.

Another “suspicious” approach was reported on Saturday (August 16) in the Gulf of Oman, between Oman and Pakistan, by the NATO Maritime Security Center. A merchant ship was approached by 2 skiffs. Security guards on board used warning flares; the skiffs stopped their approach after the guards displayed their weapons.

The European Union anti-piracy force (EUNAFOR Atalanta) is currently commanded by an Italian, Rear Admiral Guido Rando, aboard the ITS Andrea Doria and has 3 other ships: the auxiliary ship FGS Berlin, the Spanish frigate ESPS Navarre, the command and air defense frigate HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën, with on board an NH90 helicopter and a boarding party of Maltese sailors.

For its part, the NATO anti-piracy force (Ocean Shield) is made up of SNMG1 – the Standing NATO Maritime Group – under the command of Danish Rear Admiral Aage Buur Jensen aboard the HDMS Absalon. It includes 2 other frigates: the FGS Magdeburg (Germany) andUSS Taylor (USA) and should also benefit from the reinforcement of the Italian ship ITS Mimbelli.


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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