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Thursday, March 24, 2005

New ONI World Wide Threat to Shipping Report

In addition to covering the incidents of the kidnapped sailors from the Strait of Malacca, the March 23 ONI World Wide Threat to Shipping offers up some hazards to yachting cautionary tales:
4. GULF OF ADEN: Five yachts traveling in convoy were attacked 9 Mar (reported 14 Mar) at 0800 local time while underway50 miles off the Yemeni coast and 100 miles from Somalia. The Australian yachts (PENYLLAN), (SEA DOVE), (GYPSY DAYS), and (NARENA), and the U.S. flag yacht (IMANI) grouped them selves tightly and increased to speed to the maximum for the group; 6.5
knots. Mayday calls were sent and the Panamanian freighter (ROYALPESCADORES) and a P-3 Orion responded, while the yachts stayed in communication with Coalition forces at German HQ in Djibouti. The attacking vessel was described as one of three dhows, probably wooden, with bright blue and orange plastic covering cargo, possibly identical to the ones described in the 8 Mar attack, below. Shots were fired when the pursuing dhow was at a distance of a half mile, but soon gave up the chase and turned toward the Yemeni coast (Latitude 38).

5. GULF OF ADEN-YEMEN: The U.S. sailboats (MAHDI) and
(GANDALF) report approach 08 Mar at 1700 local time while
underway in position 13:28N, 048:07E, approximately 30 miles off the coast of Yemen. Two fast boats, with four men in each, opened fire on the yachts, aiming at the cockpits. (MAHDI) returned fire, wounding 1 of the pirates, and (GANDALF) rammed the boat trying to come alongside to board, while shots were fired at the boat's intending boarders. Description of pirate boats: 30 ft long, blue hulled rib cage with outboard motors. The yachtsmen involved believe an earlier approach by four boats may have been part of a pirate picket line. Since the boats were observed proceeding from the Yemen coast the yachtsmen tend to doubt they are Somali pirates, according to details reported 16 Mar (IMB, INFO).
Good idea for the yachts to travel in convoys. It's also comforting to note in all the recent incidents in the Gulf of Aden how rapidly coalition forces are responding to observed threats and calls for assistance.

Here's the ONI take on the kidnapping of the two Japanese and one Filipino crewmen off the Japanese tug:
The recent attack on the Japanese tug (IDATEN) is somewhat unusual in that itis the first in which the kidnapped crew have not been local mariners, which may have affected their relatively rapid release.Regardless of whether the case represents GAM involvement, the fact that Japanese mariners have been kidnapped has instantly given this hijacking far more prominence than any of the previous ones and will increase pressure on Malaysia and Indonesia to accept outside assistance, with the perceived risks to their sovereignty. Malaysia's 16 Mar rejection of Japanese Coast Guard patrol plans comes as no surprise...
For some thoughts on the sovereignity issue, see here.

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