Neptune P2P Group Maritime Security Team foil pirate attack.

01st June 2017 0430 UTC
Position: 23° 31’ 4” N 060° 26’ 8” E
Location: Gulf of Oman

Incident Details: On the 1st June at 0430 UTC a merchant vessel in position 23° 31’ 4” N 060° 26’ 8” E sighted two mother ships, one of which released a skiff, which proceeded toward the vessel. The pirates on board the skiff fired three shots toward the vessel. The security team on board confirmed the sighting of 6 pirates on board the skiff, all carrying AK-type weapons, with ladders and nets visible. The vessel sounded the alarm, increased speed and activated the hoses, while the crew retreated to the citadel. The security team showed weapons, and one pirate then pointed his weapon towards the vessel/security team leader. The security team leader proceeded to fire warning shots, at which point the skiff abandoned the attack and retreated. The vessel
is now safe.

Intelligence Comment: This attack comes after two incidents in the Gulf of Oman last month, which appeared to be unrelated to each other. Prior to these, this region had been relatively quiet  for some time, with the last known attack before these on the TORM KRISTINA in December 2012. There has been increased pirate activity in the Gulf of Aden in recent months.

Intelligence Assessment: Somali pirates have historically been able to operate in the Gulf of Oman using a tactic known as ‘leap frogging’ whereby they hijack another dhow and use this as a mothership and then hijack another one when they deem it tactically necessary. If this incident is confirmed to be attributed to Somali piracy, as early information indicates, it will see a worrying reversal back into an old trend (albeit not one frequently used) and would highlight that Somali pirates are now able to operate up to 1000 nm from the Somali basin.

Manchester Arena Terror Attack – What we know so far.

Incident Details

At around 2230 hrs on 22nd May, a lone male attacker targeted a crowd dispersing from the ‘Ariana Grande’ concert at the Manchester Arena, Manchester, UK.

The attacker detonated an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) which was carried in his rucksack, as the crowd was leaving the arena.

Initial reports suggest that 22 people have been killed, amongst them an unknown number of children.

59 people are being treated for various injuries across the cities hospitals, many of them are life threatening injuries.

12 children are amongst those being treated.

The attacker (who was killed in the explosion) has been identified by the police, who will not release his name.

The police have arrested two people in South Manchester in connection with the attack, some sources are saying more raids will take place throughout the day.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack in Manchester; however, this does not mean that the attacker took orders directly from an IS controller.
Claims of responsibility are usually issued through the group’s Amaq News Agency, an official jihadist news source, and then disseminated through social media.

There is very little confirmed information on the individual who carried out the attack at the Manchester Arena so now is not the time and place to speculate as to what
the causes were and what his intent was.

Neptune P2P Group Int Report

Incident Details: On the 16th May (no timings given) a merchant vessel reported irregular activity of three Dhows in position 1403N 05135E being boarded by Indian Navy assets and confiscating a cache of weapons. Further to this, on the 17th May at 0530 UTC, UKMTO received a sighting from a merchant vessel that was approached by 7 skiffs at position 14 41.25N 051 03.43E this being within 90nm to the previous sighting (Source: UKMTO).

Intelligence Comment: It is assessed as a possibility that the Dhows sighted on the 16th may have been a PAG supply boat in connection to the skiff sighting on the 17th. The two incidents were within 90nm of each other. The skiffs each had 4/5 POB and travelled within 1NM from both port and starboard quarters. This could be a display of a swarming tactic in which pirates are observing MV for any defensive measures adopted. The skiffs preceded to follow the MV for 30 minutes and then stopped. The area of the skiff sighting is a known fishing area however it is common in such area for pirates to pose as fisherman. Further to this, the lack of security in Yemen has given rise to increased operations by terrorist groups competing for power in port cities such as Al Mukalla. There is an ongoing threat of terrorism at sea off the coast of Yemen, caution should be exercised in this area

Suspicious approach and attempted piracy attack

Incident Details: On the 8th May (no timings given) a Merchant vessel in position 253124N 0573248E reported a suspicious approach. 4 Skiffs approaching, long hook sighted, no weapons sighted. Further to this, on 7th May, the UKMTO received information that a merchant vessel was attacked in position 25:32.00N 057:33.00E at 1440 UTC (Source: UKMTO).

Intelligence Comment: It is assessed that these two incidents are indeed not the same (despite the lack of official information). It has transpired that (on 7th may) a VHF call was sent out from master of NAVIOS HIOS asking for military assistance as they came under pirate attack. 3 x skiff fast approached Starboard Bow LADDERS SIGHTED 0.5nm, Mother ship approaching from Astern. No other information was available.

Intelligence Assessment: Somali pirates have historically been able to operate in the Gulf of Oman using a tactic known as ‘leap frogging’ whereby they hijack another dhow and use this as a mothership and then hijack another one when they deem it tactically necessary. If these incidents are confirmed as attributed to Somali tactics, it will see a worrying reversal back into an old trend (albeit not one frequently used) and highlight that Somali pirates are now able to operate up to 1000 nm from the Somali bases.

Aid worker kidnappings soar in famine-threatened Somalia

Kidnapping of aid workers and extortion at checkpoints are on the rise in Somalia, the United Nations said on Thursday, hindering efforts to prevent the country slipping into renewed famine.

In the first 27 days of April, 13 humanitarian workers were abducted, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update, the highest monthly figure since 2011.

“The affected personnel are all frontline responders,” it said, without giving further details.

Four aid workers carrying out vaccinations were kidnapped by al-Shabaab jihadist militants, who are fighting to topple the government, in early April, according to media reports.

The UN is racing to avoid a repeat of the 2011 famine in the drought-hit Horn of African nation when more than 250,000 people died of starvation.

Via, full story here.

EU Force Maintains Pirate Watch Off Somalia

For the first time in years, piracy has returned to the coast of Somalia, with as many as six incidents reported in the last two months. But the European Union naval force patrolling the region, EU NAVFOR, says it continues to be successful in escorting ships carrying food aid to drought-stricken Somalia.

A spokesperson for the EU force, Lieutenant Commander Jacqueline Sherriff, told VOA’s Somali Service that the force has not experienced a single attack on aid ships since it began protecting World Food Program (WFP) vessels in 2008.

“Our warship will actually sail alongside a ship very closely to stop any pirates approaching but we also have another way of doing it…We can put a military protection team on board the WFP vessel itself,” she said.

With two EU vessels patrolling Somalia’s coastal waters, helicopters overhead and help from partner nations, Sherriff believes the mission scares off most would-be pirates. In fact, she said, during one recent attack, pirates boarded a vessel and then fled when they heard over the radio that an EU warship was en route.

“They know that we’re off the coast, so we’re hoping, we’re trying to deter them from coming out to sea in the first instance,” she said.

Via Voa News, click here for the full story.

Hodeida port closure would be ‘disaster’ for Yemen

A closure of the Hodeida port would “bring disaster to Yemen,” which is already on the brink of famine, the new head of the UN’s World Food Programme warned Wednesday.

There are rising fears that a Saudi-led military coalition fighting rebels in Yemen could attack the Hodeida port, through which most of the country’s food is imported.

A spokesman for the coalition however has denied it plans to launch an offensive on Hodeida.

“Ninety percent of the imports into Yemen come in through the port of Hodeida. Something like 80 percent of all the World Food Programme food comes through that port,” David Beasley told AFP.

“So if that port is shut down for whatever reason, it would bring disaster to Yemen.”

Via Mail Online, click here for the full story.

Shipowners: More naval vessels by Somalia are an option

Events over recent weeks of hijackings and piracy off the coast of Somalia have once again prompted shipowners to raise the question of whether more naval vessels should be sent to the region.

In mid-March a new hijacking happened after several years without notable pirate activity, which had been diminished by a combination of navy forces in the area and a new practice among shipowners, now sailing faster and further from the coast, and additionally recruiting security guards on board as well as installing barbed wire and water canons on the rail.

Later on, fears came true as other vessels experienced hijackings. In early April, Reuters reported the hijacking of an Indian vessel where the 11 crew members were held hostage.

“The latest registered piracy activity proves that Somali based piracy was never completely defeated. That was also one of the reasons for EU to extend the mandate of Operation ATALANTA until December 2018. We think it is important that the current situation is monitored closely and addressed timely, so we don’t see a recurrence of the piracy activity we saw years back,” says Secretary General for the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA), Patrick Verhoeven, in a comment to ShippingWatch.

Via Shipping Watch, full article here.

EU calls for renewed efforts to battle resurgent piracy off Somalia

The resurgent piracy attacks off the vast Somali coastline is a result of the growing insecurity in the Horn of Africa region, which calls for renewed security partnership to defeat, a commander of an international naval task force against piracy told Xinhua.

Commander Jacqui Sheriff, Spokesperson for the European Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) operating off the Somali coastline to deter piracy along the Indian Ocean coastline and in the Gulf of Aden, said pirates have felt the need to return to sea in the middle of heightened insecurity in recent months.

Via CoastNews, full article here.

Drought-hit Somalia moves closer to famine, says aid group

Mogadishu –  Life-threatening child malnutrition rates are rising to alarming levels in drought-hit Somalia, the international aid group Save the Children said on Thursday.

A new survey found “very critical” levels of severe malnutrition in two of six districts assessed in some of the worst affected parts of Somalia.

The drought has left 6.2 million people – more than half of the population of Somalia – in need of immediate lifesaving assistance and a further 8.3 million in Kenya and Ethiopia are also need of urgent help, he said.

Via news24, full article here.