Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Monday, March 05, 2012

Somali Pirates: Increased Activity Off Oman

NATO notices Increased pirate danger off Oman:
There has been an increase of piracy related activity over the past two weeks in the High Risk Area (HRA), especially off the coast of Oman. At 1201Z on 03 March 12, a merchant vessel sighted a suspicious group of skiffs in the vicinity of 2127N 06237E . One of the skiffs followed the merchant vessel for approximately 2 hours despite the merchant vessel taking evasive action. (NSC Alert 10/12)

Pirate Attack Groups (PAGs) are confirmed as operating off the Omani coast. 02 March 12 a merchant vessel approximately was pirated 150NM NE of Masirah (Oman) coast at position 1634N 05948E. (Alert 18/12)
Actually, the culmination of the increased activity is a highjacking on 4 Mar 2102:
018/12 - Update 04/03/2012 09:25 16.57 59.8
Pirated Pirated
Alert number 018 / 2012. At 1219 UTC / 02MAR12 / a MV is currently under attack by 1 skiff in position 21 27 N 062 37 E.

Update 2:

We have received reports confirming this vessel has been hijacked and was in position 1634N 5948E.
MarineLog reports:
A maritime security alert has been issued for the Arabian Sea after a merchant vessel, MV Royal Grace, was reportedly hijacked in position 21:27N - 062:37E approximately 150NM off Oman on March 2, reports GAC Protective Solutions.


According to the Equasis data base, the 6,813 dwt, Panama-flagged, Royal Grace was built in 1984 as a Chemical/Oil Products Tanker and is managed by Oyster Cargo & Shipping LLC. The owner is Snow Whyte Energy Ltd., which uses the same Dubai address as the manager.


  1. Gary Stringer6:20 AM

    These waters have become increasingly more dangerous, in regards to the skiff following the merchant vessel I have read that these are frequent occurences and often go unreported.

  2. The ICC live piracy report shows that to date no ships carrying armed security guards have been boarded. Firing warning shots appears to be a sufficient deterrent.
    I am a retired shipmaster but always carried firearms on board. (Probably against some law or another.)
    I have fired at pirate attacks on two occasions during the 1980/90s. Both actions saved my ship and its crew. Historically merchant ships have always been armed, piracy is nothing new. Armed security guards are the obvious answer. Pirates are murderers; seafarers have a human right to be able to defend themselves.

  3. Anonymous2:48 PM

    Armed guards are an obvious answer...for now. I am a big supporter of security teams, but even more than that, I believe there's a need for an integrated approach that gets ahead of the threat. It's not enough to react to the pirates' having guns by arming mariners. That works fine so long as only one out of every five or six vessels is armed, because it means there's always plenty of unarmed, easy targets right around the corner. What happens when 5 out of 6 merchant vessels are armed? Do the pirates give up the business model and go home? Hardly. They recognize that mariners can carry rifles, but not heavy machine guns, and they up-arm their motherships with high-caliber heavy machine guns. Now they can open fire and suppress security teams from a half mile out or more, and the danger level to the crew, cargo, vessel, and yes - security teams - goes up exponentially.

    In short, militarizing commerce is not the answer. Smart use of predictive intelligence and threat warning, deterrents, passive defenses, delaying tactics and equipment, and then into the full spectrum of non-lethal to lethal-force defenses is required. It's the only way to stay ahead of the game, get into the pirates' planning and operational cycles, and make them adapt and adjust to what the mariners are doing instead of perpetually dictating the terms and watching the shippers play catch-up.