Two Suspect Incidents In Gulf Of Aden
February 2007 saw two potentially threatening incidents affect sailing vessels northbound through the Gulf of Aden.
On Monday 12 February, the Gipsy Moth IV was approached by a small vessel. The 53ft ketch was at the time accompanied by six yachts from the Blue Water Rally and as the vessel moved closer the yachts adopted a tight formation around Gipsy Moth IV. The smaller vessel followed at a distance of a few hundred yards behind the yachts and was soon joined by another larger boat which together shadowed them, a mile or so behind. One yacht broadcast a security message on VHF Channel 16 and (it appears by coincidence) within a few minutes a US warship appeared ahead and hailed the formation to ask for more details of the encounter. Soon after the trailing boats disappeared.
A similar incident occurred to a 40m sailing yacht also travelling northbound in the Red Sea. On 15 February, at position 13° 27 N 43° 02 E, approximately 50 miles NNW of Bab El Mandeb and 15 miles NW of Al Mukha, the yacht was approached by two small fishing craft each carrying a crew of five.
In this case the yacht had a counter piracy plan developed by two onboard Maritime Security specialists embarked for this specific passage. The yacht crew were mustered as per the plan; meanwhile one small craft drew ahead of the yacht while the other approached from the starboard quarter. The yacht’s crew prepared to defend against a possible boarding which included: putting on body armour; and overt handling of a flare gun in a manner which at 50m could be seen as having a pistol. At this point the two craft pulled away and rendezvoused well astern of the yacht before departing in a SW direction towards a distant dhow. It is possible that the two craft were operating from a mother vessel.