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Piracy on Cruising Yachts

Piracy which has been confirmed as piracy specifically involving cruising yachts undertaking passage through the Gulf of Aden has presented a need to avoid the area where most incidents have taken place.

Latest News
IMPORTANT! (2009): There is a large spike in piracy attempts in the Gulf of Aden and transit suggestions are changing almost daily. It is important to monitor the forum discussion thread HERE
Jolly Roger

Gulf of Aden

Also see: Indian Ocean

N.B.: See the News block at R/H of article.


Here is a suggested passage plan :-

  • Minimum Lights during passage through a 3000 sq. nautical mile area bounded by the coordinates 13° 05' North <> 13° 55' North x 47° 45' East <> 48°45' East. The centre of this "Box" is at 13° 30' North x 48° 15' East, about 80nms South West of Al Mukalla - bearing from Al Mukalla 220° true. Best is an all round white at cockpit level. ie : fishing boat lighting. (watch out for big ships, then decklevel Nav. Lights to emulate fishing boat)
  • Passage:- Salalah to Djibouti
    • Leave Salalah - 16° 57' North x 54° 00' East
    • 130 nms to 1st waypoint - 15° 00' North x 53° 00' East
    • 278 nms to 2nd waypoint - 12° 30' North x 49° 00' East
    • 178 nms to 3rd waypoint - 12° 00' North x 46° 00' East
    • 60nms to - 4th waypoint - 11° 45' North x 45° 00' East
    • 118 nms to 5th waypoint - 11° 40' North x 43° 09' East
    • 7.5 nms to 6th waypoint - 11° 37' North x 43° 07' East Djibouti Anchorage.

Total:- 771.5 Nautical Miles.

(If you don't want to go to Djibouti turn right for Aden: 12°44'45.6" North x 44° 58'13" East before you get to the 4th waypoint.)

G of A Piracy.jpg

Piracy Reporting

ICC International Maritime Bureau
16.03A Wisma Nusantara
Jalan Punchak
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Anti Piracy Helpline Numbers
Tel +603 238 5763, Fax +603 238 5769
The services of the Centre are available to the shipping industry 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Piracy Reports

North Indian Ocean piracy incidences - 2010/11
Click on image for large, clear view
© Judy Rouse
South Indian Ocean piracy incidences - 2010/11
Click on image for large, clear view
© Judy Rouse

International Piracy Report Q3 2007

Cruising in South East Asia – This Millennium
Piracy – Fact and Fiction – Reality and Perception

© Analyzing the first 9 months of 2007 ©

Extracts from the 3rd Quarter Report of Piracy - With specific reference to Cruising Yachts and areas of interest. REQUESTS For the PDF 68 Page Document should be made to :- http://www.icc-ccs.org (go to piracy report request) Total number of attacks of any nature against yachts during the 1st 9 months of 2007 throughout the world as reported to the ICC International Maritime Bureau at the Piracy Report Centre located in Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia:- From 10 reported “Incidents” in 2003 down to the 7 “incidents” in the first 9 months of 2007.

Of the 7 yachts reported on, only 2 yachts located in South East Asian Waters as being involved in incidents were reported as being victims of attempted Piracy.

The Q3 report for 2007 is carried by the ICC International Maritime Bureau in a PDF format. The reports on attempted attacks on yachts are referenced by item and page # in the 68 page document.


Ref. Item 1 page 60 of 68 – Incident:-
While underway, crew onboard one of the blue water rally group of yachts spotted a small boat approaching, skipper tightened formation of his yachts and took precautionary measures. The small boat moved to the stern of the formation and was later joined by a larger boat and they followed at a range of one mile. Yacht sent a distress message via VHF Radio. One of the Coalition warships appeared in the vicinity. The trailing boats abandoned the chase.

Initial analysis:-
This incident typifies a circumstance where boats are perceived to be approaching a yacht with unfriendly intentions, where in all probability they were going about their business of fishing, as hundreds of fishing boats do every day in the Gulf of Aden.

Ref. Item 2 page 60 of 68 – Incident:-
A 40 metre yacht sighted two small fishing craft carrying five personnel each underway. One craft moved to a position 200 metres ahead of the yacht and the other swung around and approached from starboard quarter. Anti piracy measures activated by the yacht. Suspicious craft moved away seeing the crew alertness. The craft could have been operating from a mother vessel.

Initial analysis:-
The incident of this 40 metre (130 feet) yacht being herded by 2 small fishing craft being able to activate “Anti Piracy Measures “ which moved the suspicious craft away is another one that doesn’t really fall into the category of an attempted “Piracy Attack”

Additional analysis:-
There is nothing here which, without corroborative evidence, justifies this being called a pirate attack. In a country (Yemen) second only to the USA in terms of firearms per capita, an "alert" crew would not be sufficient to scare off any form of organized attack. Conclusion on this one is that they were probably fishermen who were either curious of the yacht or possibly wanted to buy / be given cigarettes. Yachtsmen are doing themselves no favours by alienating themselves from fishermen who otherwise might come to the yachtsman's aid in the case of a real pirate attack.

Ref. Item 3 page 64 of 68 – Incident:-
The Yacht contacted by a passing vessel asking for a weather report and a number of crew on board. Suddenly four suspicious speedboats with three persons on board on each emerged from the vessel and sped towards the yacht. One boat had a tripod mounted on the bow. Skipper raised alarm, crew mustered and activated fire hoses. A distress message was sent by VHF Radio. A coalition warship responded to the distress call. Skipper doubled anti piracy watch. Suspicious boats moved away.

Initial analysis:-
The Oman Coast Guard operate in these waters and are known to challenge boats and ships. It is apparent from the brief report that they out-manned the yacht and could have easily boarded, Interesting that the Yacht could muster crew and activate fire hoses. No information is provided as to the interpretation of this encounter by the Coalition forces. Can this Incident be classed as an attempted piracy attack ?

Additional analysis:-
A suspicious speedboat - how can a boat be suspicious? The people on it yes, but the boat itself? Speedboats speeding towards the innocent vessel. The bottom line on this on is that when this was discussed in Aden the report was regarded with skepticism – no further information has be provided to change that opinion.

Ref. Item 5 page 60 of 68 – Incident:-
Two vessels approached the Yacht at high speed. Alarm was raised , crew mustered and activated fire hoses. The yacht increased speed and took evasive maneuvers. Vessels aborted the attempt and moved away.

Initial analysis:-
This encounter took place just a few miles S.W. of Mukalla, the main fishing port of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden – from here many boats with powerful outboard engines leave to go fishing in the Gulf – not at all unreasonable that a these would pass near by. As these boats can achieve over 20 knots with their powerful outboards – must have been an unusual yacht that was able to evade the “Pirates”

Additional analysis:-
Al Makulla is, as rightly pointed out, a main fishing port. Not only that, it is also the district coast-guard headquarters, has a naval patrol boat based there (Australian built and a very capable vessel), and, due to the gas industry, is the base for a number of foreign (mainly French) helicopters. Close to the coast in this part of the country is not an area where people would want to operate as a pirate. I can only believe this to be curious and perhaps friendly fishermen. As also pointed out above, a yacht is not going to outrun one of these coastal fishing boats, built like an arrow with a big outboard at the stern.

Ref. Item 7 page 54 of 68 – Incident:-
Four pirates in a speed boat approached a sailing yacht underway. When the pirate boat was nearly alongside, a pirate standing on the bow of the boat, attempted to throw a small warp-anchor with a thin rope attached to enable to board the yacht, the master of the yacht increased speed and maneuvered the yacht in a zigzag manner. Luckily, the pirate’s engine failed enabling the yacht to escape.

Initial analysis:-
This Encounter took place some 70 nm S.E of the Anambas Islands in International waters. Again a yacht under sail was able to increase speed in order to escape the Pirate’s speed boat. Interesting as to how it was determined that that pirate’s boat’s engine failed – wonder how the Pirates got back their home port ?

Additional analysis:-
Again, the claimed increase in speed is an interesting issue. How can a yacht outrun a speedboat? If the claim is true, the German yacht was very fortunate that the speedboats engine packed up just when it did.

Ref. Item 5 page 56 of 68 – Incident:-
Several fishing vessels chased and attempted to board the yacht while on route from The Maldives to Malaysia. The yacht managed to evade the attempted attack.

Initial analysis:-
Harassment of yachts on passage south of Sri Lanka by fishing boats – using fairly aggressive pandering tactics for hand-outs has become a problem. It appears to be symptomatic of the country’s economic problems and the after-effects of the Great Tsunami. Luckily no violence has occurred in the period being analysed.

Additional analysis:-
It is possible to read too much into semantics but how did a few, possibly aggressive, fishermen suddenly become an attack? I believe the entire report is subject to inflation. People see what they expect to see and, in certain areas of the world, an approaching craft is perceived to be a pirate vessel and nothing else.

Ref. Item 2 page 55 of 68 – Incident:-
Two speedboats, with an unknown number of men and believed to be armed, were trailing the yacht underway. Suspicious of their intention, the yacht broadcast the incident via VHF Radio. A passing container ship relayed the message to Singapore port authorities. The Singapore port authorities relayed to MRCC Jakarta and broadcast a navigational warning via the navtex and safety net system. The attempted attack was aborted.

Initial analysis:-
This incident is recorded as having taken place close to that which involved the Yacht “Freiheit” some 3 months earlier (see above – again in international waters). There is no information as to why the attck was aborted – it has been suggested that in both these instances the boats belonged to Indonesian Navy Detachments

Additional analysis:-
It is quite possible that the boats were Indonesian navy. Similar tactics in Sweden have at times been observed. Trailing leisure boats from unmarked (civil) coast guard speedboats and RIBS, doesn’t make them into pirates. This is pretty bog standard in anti-drug smuggling duties.


PIRACY so far this YEAR – for Cruisers
(with reference to http://www.icc-ccs.org)

Discussion and Conclusions:-

The analysis above of reported attempted attacks on Yachts sailing the world has been carried out by the Cruiserlog Moderators in order to evaluate the events/incidents from a cruisers point of view. It is not meant to be a criticism of the ICC International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Report Centre’s Q3 report for 2007. They receive reports from ships, boats and yachts and précis these for publication in their weekly piracy report which is then widely circulated. It is probable that the IMB is not able to check the veracity of the initial incident, therefore having to accept it at face value even though it may sound incomplete, inaccurate or even exaggerated. A minor issue is the classification of Vietnam as being in the Far East not South East Asia, while the Philippines is in South East Asia – however this does not alter the overall picture of Piracy in this part of the world.

Reports of attempted attacks on yachts totalled the grand sum of 7 on all of this Planet’s oceans and seas during the first 9 months of 2007 – why is it that no reports were included on piracy attacks on yachts in the Caribbean, when it is understood that robberies and thefts from yachts are relatively commonplace in many of the anchorages and that these are reported in a number of publications and forums? Is it because victims and/or authorities decide that Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia as being on the other side of the Planet?

In South East Asia we also have reports of dinghy outboard engines being stolen from yachts while the owners were asleep or away. At least 5 this year, between Labuan >> Gaya Island >> Kudat >> Sandekan -- Sabah Malaysia. Not one of these robberies were reported as PIRACY attacks, reports merely made to local police as a “theft.”

With only 7 reported incidents involving yachts, of which 4 took place in the Middle East , one in the Northern Indian Ocean, with just two incidents in the vicinity of the Anambas Islands – South East Asian Waters where yachts were reportedly approached by pirates – these in probability may very well have involved some detachment of the Indonesian Navy which is based in the Anambas Islands (who are charged with controlling access to the Islands).

Therefore, it is concluded that with the thousands of yachts that are based in South East Asia and the hundreds of cruising yachts that are actively cruising the seas of South East Asia – that actual or attempted attacks on yachts in the first nine months of 2007 were of little or no significance whatsoever. The greatest danger to yachts in the Strait of Malacca (often quoted as the "Pirates’ Playground") is still lightning!

Moderators, CruiserLog.com'


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