3. (U) Projected Risk of AttackI have rearranged the order of the report for ease of reading.
A. (U) GULF OF ADEN: Over the next 72 hours weather conditions are less conducive for small boat activity in the Gulf of Aden with winds at 5-20 knots and associated wave heights of 2-6 feet (UK Weather Online).
B. (U) INDIAN OCEAN: In the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Somalia, weather conditions are now less conducive to small boat operations. Forecasts indicate wind speeds of 10-20 knots with associated wave heights of 4-8 feet (UK Weather Online).
5. (U) Forecast for Week of 23-29 December 2009
(U) Weather conditions continue to worsen in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden as the winter monsoon season sets in. The winter monsoon season is expected to bring weather likely not suitable to small boat operations in the Horn of Africa (HOA) region. However, it is likely that a few groups will still get underway and try to hijack ships. Mariners are warned that though we do expect a decrease in overall pirate activity in the HOA region, the possibility of pirate attack is still great, and mariners should continue to maintain all counter-piracy measures when transiting the area. Somali pirates currently hold fewer vessels for ransom than they have shown the ability to hold. This week, ONI assesses the risk of pirate attacks is moderate in the Indian Ocean with increased risks in the areas noted in red on the map below. Please note pirates south of the equator in the Indian Ocean have demonstrated the ability to operate in the capability range of Medium. Prevailing currents are significant between latitudes 1 degree north and 5 degrees south and tend to flow in an easterly direction with speeds up to 3.5 kts. Therefore, increased risk of attack exists due east of the Somali coast out as far as 1000NM (Past 62E longitude-Greater than 500NM northeast of Port Victoria, Seychelles) between these latitudes. While there has been a decrease in overall activity in the Gulf of Aden, it remains a prime operating area for Somali pirates.
A. (U) Summary of the Week
(U) There are two incidents to report in this period. Both incidents occurred last week but came to light this week.
1. (U) Vessels Hijacked
1. Dhow (NAFEYA) hijacked on 16 December 09 at 1700 local time while underway near position 02:45S – 42:37E. Dhow has a crew of 13 Indians on board. Dhow is now underway likely conducting pirate mothership operations.
2. Dhow (LAXMI SAGAR) hijacked on 10 December 09 while underway near position 06:00N – 51:00E, approximately 115NM southeast of Garacad, Somalia. Vessel was controlled by armed men for approximately five days before being released. Reportedly no ransom was paid. Armed men stole crew belongings and money before disembarking the dhow (IMB, LM: AFRICA NEWS).
Other ONI info from the ONI Weekly Worldwide Threat to Shipping Report (to 18 December 09):
2. NIGERIA: IMB reports surge in violent attacks on vessels off Nigeria, 4 Dec 09. The
ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported a number of violent attacks on vessels off
the Nigerian coast. The attacks, the aim of which is usually to rob vessel and crew of money and
stores, are notable for the attackersí willingness to use violence against crew members. In all of
the most recent attacks reported to the IMBís Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) the heavily-armed
pirates, at the very least, threatened crewmembers with deadly weapons. The pirates are usually
armed with knives and automatic firearms. On 24 November 2009 an oil tanker anchored off the
coast of Benin, by the Nigerian border, was boarded by eight or nine robbers, all armed with
guns and knives. IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan commented: "Whilst Somalia is, rightly,
getting a lot of media attention for its piracy problems, a worrying trend is emerging off the coast
of Nigeria. We have noted a higher level of violence in attacks off Nigeria than any other region
in the world." In another incident, on 30 October 2009, a product tanker was attacked off Lagos
by six pirates armed with knives and guns. IMB urges all ship masters, owners and managers,
and others involved in the shipping industry, to report piracy or armed robbery incidents to its
PRC. The PRC is located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and is the only 24-hour manned centre able
to receive and process reports of attacks from around the world. This timely, first hand
information from ship masters enables IMB to identify high-risk areas to the governments
concerned and is the first essential step in the attack response chain.
H. INDIAN OCEAN-EAST AFRICA:
1. GULF OF ADEN: Tanker (NORDIC SPRITE) fired upon 7 Dec 09 at 0501 UTC while
underway in position 12:54N ñ 048:07E, approximately 120NM northwest of Bosasso, Somalia.
Armed men aboard two skiffs fired upon the vessel with automatic weapons and RPGs. The
vessel used counter-piracy measures and was able to prevent boarding. No injuries were reported
(UKMTO, IMB, ONI, LM: Jakarta Post).
2. GULF OF ADEN: Bulk carrier (RED SEA SPIRIT) reported suspicious approach 19 Nov
09 at 2200 local time while underway in position 13:37.9N ñ 047:41E. A suspicious craft was
observed following the vessel until a distance of approximately 1.5 cables. The vessel conducted
evasive maneuvers mustered the crew to the bridge. The craft pointed a searchlight on the vessel
and fired a shot into the air, claiming to be the Yemeni Coast Guard. The master contacted
coalition forces when the craft ordered the vessel to stop to conduct a search, for which the
master refused. The men in the craft asked for information on the vessel and crew before
eventually leaving. Comment: UKMTO assesses this was not a piracy incident, but indeed a
Yemeni Coast Guard craft, due to the bulk carrierís close proximity to Yemen territorial waters
(Operator, UKMTO, Reuters).
3. INDIAN OCEAN: Dhow (LAXMI SAGAR) hijacked on 10 December 09 while
underway near position 06:00N ñ 51:00E, approximately 115NM southeast of Garacad, Somalia.
Vessel was controlled by armed men for approximately five days before being released.
Reportedly no ransom was paid. Armed men stole crew belongings and money before
disembarking the dhow (IMB, LM: AFRICA NEWS).
4. INDIAN OCEAN: Bulk carrier (CORAL GLOBE) fired upon 7 Dec 09 at 1343 UTC
while underway in position 00:27N ñ 061:39E, approximately 977NM east of Mogadishu,
Somalia. Armed men in two skiffs chased and fired on the vessel with automatic weapons and
RPGs. Vessel increased speed and was able to prevent multiple boarding attempts. Vessel deck
caught on fire but was quickly put out by the crew of the vessel. No injuries were reported.
(IMB, UKMTO, LL, ONI).
5. INDIAN OCEAN: Fishing Vessel (SHAHBAIG) hijacked on 6 December 09 while
underway in position 11:52N ñ 62:36E, approximately 470NM southeast of Socotra Island.
Vessel reportedly has 29 crewmembers on board, all believed to be Pakistani. Vessel is
reportedly headed toward the Somali coastline (AP, UKMTO, EUNAVFOR, ONI).
K. SOUTHEAST ASIA:
1. INDONESIA: General cargo ship reported suspicious approach 11 Dec 09 at 0820 local
time while underway in position 05:15.9S ñ 123:25.1E, approximately 11NM east of Pulau
Buton. Four men armed with a gun and spear in a speedboat chased the vessel. The captain
conducted counter-piracy measures and evaded the speedboat (IMB).
2. INDONESIA: Tanker boarded 8 Dec 09 at 0325 local time while in position 06:13.62S ñ
108:28.29E, Balongan anchorage. Four robbers boarded the vessel from the poop deck. They
were spotted by the duty watchman who immediately informed the bridge duty officer. The
alarm was raised and the crew mustered. Upon seeing the crew alertness, the robbers escaped in
a waiting boat (IMB).
3. INDONESIA: Bulk carrier reported suspicious approach 28 Nov 09 at 0900 local time
while underway east of the Ceram Islands. Four persons in a white colored speedboat, flying the
Indonesian flag, approached the vessel. The master raised the alarm and crew activated fire
hoses. They noticed the men in the speedboat were waving a black cloth, but no contact was
made on VHF. The master altered course several times to evade the approach. The speedboat
made two attempts to get close and finally aborted the chase after approximately 25 minutes