ONI assesses that vessels attacked off Somalia are randomly selected and not specifically targeted for any reason other than how easily the vessel can be boarded. Pirates simply patrol an area, wait for a target of opportunity, and attempt to board. ONI defines a high risk vessel as one that travels at a speed of less than 15 knots with low hook points. All vessels, especially vessels that fit this profile, are advised to proceed with extreme caution when transiting the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Somalia. Pirates have shown a new capability to operate in waters off the Omani coast (in the southern Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea). There have also been incidents reported in the southern Red Sea of aggressive small boat activity. Caution must be taken when transiting these waters. Pirates have achieved significant success in recent months and have shown their capability to operate for sustained periods in the Gulf of Aden and at a considerable distance (>900NM) off the coast of Somalia. Not all attacks were successful, and considerable caution is always required since the areas around failed hijackings remain at high risk for at least 48 hours after the incident.
Forecast for Week of 18-24 September 2009
As the summer monsoon season comes to an end, weather conditions continue to improve and are somewhat conducive to small boat operations in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Somalia and in the eastern Gulf of Aden. Mariners are warned to remain vigilant in their counter-piracy measures as an increase in aggressive small boat activity is expected in the coming weeks. There is still an increased probability of pirate/small boat operations in the central and western Gulf of Aden as weather continues to be conducive to small boat operations. Somali pirates currently hold fewer vessels for ransom than they have shown recent capacity to hold. This week, ONI assesses the risk of pirate attacks continues to remain low in the Indian Ocean, but the Gulf of Aden remains a prime operating area for Somali pirates.