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Piracy Attacks: North Indian Ocean, GOA & Red Sea - 1999 to 2005

By webmaster last modified Apr 21, 2017 02:46 PM

Published: 2005-04-25 14:25:00
Topics: Piracy Archive 2000-2005

March 1999: US yacht The Way, with two persons on board, is attacked off the Yemeni coast while en route from Oman to Aden. A boat with several armed pirates rammed the small yacht but could not board it in the heavy swell. They left after skipper Zoltan Gyurko gave them some money.

April 1999: Finnish yacht Violetta (33 ft) en route from Cochin to Djibouti is hijacked some 70 miles off northern Somalia. The crew were eventually freed thanks to the intervention of the UN, but the boat was never recovered.

June 1999: the German yacht Nono (45 ft) en route from the Seychelles to the Red Sea is boarded by six heavily armed men 13 miles off the coast of Northern Somalia. The yacht is taken to the Somali port of Bosasso. The crew of five German nationals is released after the intervention of EU officials, but the yacht is retained by the hijackers.

September 1999: the French yacht Correlation (43 ft) en route from the Seychelles to Red Sea was attacked off the east coast of Somalia. One British crew member (Alan Maclean) was allegedly shot dead by the pirates who then abandoned the attack. The incident is under investigation by the French authorities, who suspect foul play on behalf of Captain Sorrel, a French citizen.

November 1999: the Australian yacht Aphrodite III en route to Aden was boarded by pirates close to the Yemeni coast. Shots were fired and the yacht was holed in several places above the waterline, after which the boat was ransacked and the crew were robbed of all items of value. A Mayday brought a cargo ship to the rescue. The damaged yacht was towed into Aden and the attackers were later found and arrested.

November 1999: the yacht Leonard Star was menaced by a suspicious boat close to Zubair Islands in the Red Sea. The yacht was not boarded.

November 1999: the Panamanian flagged schooner Airflow (90 ft) southbound in the Red Sea was menaced by two boats trying to intercept it. Aden Port Captain was contacted by telephone and two high-speed craft were sent out by the Yemeni Navy. The offending boats abandoned the attack.

January 2000: the catamaran Gone Troppo (36 ft), bound from Cochin to Aden, was attacked by a small boat as they were closing with the Yemeni coast in the approaches to Aden. After shots were fired into the catamaran, one of which injured Gail Dawson, the boat was boarded by four men who ransacked it of all valuables before leaving. The Mayday was finally answered by another yacht which alerted the authorities in both Djibouti and Aden. Gone Troppo managed to reach Aden unassisted.

February 2000: the British yacht Nori (50 ft) sailing in the Gulf of Aden during the Millennium Odyssey Canarias round the world rally was menaced by a boat apparently coming from Northern Somalia. Three other Millennium yachts sailing in the vicinity were immediately alerted, as were the French authorities in Djibouti, who were monitoring the progress of the Millennium fleet. A French helicopter was dispatched immediately to the scene, by which time the offending boat had disappeared over the horizon. The helicopter gave chase and intercepted the boat as it was making full speed towards the Somali coast. According to the French Naval authorities in Djibouti no other incident has been reported in the area since.

June 2000: several attacks by pirates on Guyanese fishing boats were reported off the coast of Guyana

July 2000: the captain on the American yacht Sea Lion was found murdered on board his boat anchored off Mango Marina in Guatemala. He was alone on the boat at the time and the motives are unknown.

November 2000: a French yacht was menaced by three fast boats north of Bab el Mandeb, in the southern part of the Red Sea. The yacht took avoiding action and the attackers retreated.

December 2000: French yacht Lisestrambord was stopped by an armed boat in approximate position 13°35'N, 48°09'E, about 15 miles offshore. Shots were fired and the yacht boarded. Various items were stolen as well as some money. The incident was reported to immigration in Mukallah, but no action appears to have been taken.

February 2001: On 23 February in the morning while sailing some 6 miles off the Yemeni coast the British catamaran Ocean Swan was attacked by three 20-30 ft boats. The attack occurred in position 13°48' N, 48°13'E. Shots were fired into the catamaran's foresail hitting the furling gear and rigging. At the time of the attack Ocean Swan was towing the single-handed Shady Lady, with another two boats close by, single-handed Mi Marra, and Heavenly Twins, a Swan 70. Both Ocean Swan and Shady Lady were boarded by armed men and robbed of several items as well as money, but the crew were not molested. Ocean Swan put out a Mayday on the HF radio, but this was not picked up by any vessel. The yachts made their way to Aden where the Yemeni authorities have launched an investigation. A few days earlier, 19 boats taking part in the Blue Water Round the World Rally passed through the Gulf of Aden without incident. The boats sailed in convoys of 5 boats and kept to the middle of the Gulf of Aden thus avoiding both Somali and Yemeni costal waters.

March 19, 2001: Swedish yacht Lorna, crewed by Vivi-Mai Miren and her husband, were attacked by Venezuelan pirates in approximate position 10°44.6'N, 62°22.1'W, near Punta Toleta, while en route from Isla Margarita to the Venezuelan mainland coast. A local boat, with no markings, approached the yacht and a shot was fired wounding Mr Miren in the lower abdomen. The men then boarded the yacht and stole everything of value. They also destroyed the two VHF radios. A Mayday was put out after they left and eventually the yacht was met by a Trinidad Coastguard vessel. By now the wounded man was in critical condition but he was taken to hospital in Trinidad and is now recovering.

August 28, 2002, near Buka Passage, Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea. Five machine gun-wielding men boarded the Australian ketch Spirit of Wychwood and ransacked the 50 ft yacht. On board were Bas and Roz Dolkens. According to the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur, the attack upon the Dolkens was unusual. "There have not been many attacks in PNG - one or two in the last year," an IMB spokesman said. "Previously there were some incidents in the province of Bougainville, because of the rebels, but that situation has changed."

October 12, 2002, at about 2230 local time, the yacht PANACEA, was boarded at the island of Isle Coche just south of Margarita, Venezuela, by five armed men wearing ski masks. They tied the couple on board, took everything, ransacked the boat and, as an afterthought while leaving, shot the skipper in the knee. He is recovering in a Margarita hospital.

This is the fourth armed boarding in eight weeks on the north coast of South America. The first attacks, which sounds very similar to these more recent attacks, was MISS P in Carenero, Venezuela, a month earlier. Also, on 29 September, 2002, a boat called MORNING DEW was robbed by five men with guns, in Punta Hermosa, Colombia, 10°57’N, 075°02’W. They tied up the couple on board and held them at gunpoint while they took everything. In the same incident, at least two armed men boarded ASYLUM, but were unable to get in the locked companionway door. The couple was able to frighten the boarders into leaving by spraying them with pepper spray.

October 4, 2002 British yacht Sara of Hamble is attacked off South Somalia coast. On board were John Cossey and Andrina Cossey.The attack took place at 04 40'N 48 34'E about 30 miles off the coast of Somalia, about 40 miles SSE of town of Obbia. Sara was sailing at about 3 knots under main and spinnaker. Two open boats approached at speed. Each was about 8 metres long, white, with inboard engines and each carrying five men. On the side of one boat was painted in large letters AL FIRUNAN. The boats also carried fishing nets and large cans of diesel. The men were quite young and wore coloured tee shirts and trousers The men waved, exchanged greetings, asked where we were from, and one said no problems. Then a second boat came along and three men immediately jumped on board Sara. Two men now had big fishing knives and indicated that we had to sit on the deck. Others went below and started bringing out stuff. They asked at knife point asked where our money was. It was hidden and he saw where I got it from. $680. We hoped this would satisfy them. But they wanted the radios and the cables were cut with a knife. We had nothing more and eventually after more repetitions of Kill! Kill! they left. They had been on board two hours. We motored away at 7 knots. We were nearly 800 miles from the nearest available port Salalah, Oman and it took 9 days to reach it early on Monday 14th October. We reported the incident to the police as soon as we arrived. With no radios we could not report before.

January 2003 On 10 January a Spanish sailing boat was stopped by a little speed boat 3 miles off the Venezuela coast at "Cabo Tres Puntas". The pirates were all masked, all armed with pistols and machetes and one even had a machine gun which was believed to be an "UZI".

The two Spanish sailors were held at gunpoint when the pirates searched the boat. Only cash money and credit cards were stolen. Luckily, nobody was injured.

February 20, 2003 Three yachts have been boarded by knife carrying thieves at anchor off Fortaleza (Brazil) Yacht Club, during the past 2 weeks.

Three separate mugging incidents have also taken place ashore near the yacht club. It is dangerous to walk to the yacht club and using a taxi is essential for visiting harbour authorities etc. It is recommended to head directly to the Marina Beach marina, 3.5 miles NE, which is very secure.

These attacks have caused renewed concern among visiting sailors following the murder of New Zealand sailor Sir Peter Blake in Brazilian waters over one year ago.

March 2, 2003 the yachts Bambola Quatre and Josephine were attacked in the Gulf of Aden, while en route to the red Sea, in approximate position 13°30’N, 48°20’E. The yachts were intercepted by three boats similar to ship’s lifeboats whose crews fired semi-automatic guns forcing the yachts to heave-to. Josephine sustained damage from the gunfire while Bambola was rammed by two of the attacking boats. The yachts were boarded and money, valuables and electronic equipment were removed. Bambola put out a Mayday that was picked up by a US naval ship and although the pirates were caught up, the ship took no action against them. The crews were not harmed and reached Djibouti safely.

See Bambola's report for more details

March 9, 2003, five yachts (Penyllan, Imani, Nareena, Sea Dove and Gypsy Days) sailing in convoy in approximate position 13°11’N, 48°40’E, contacted an SSB safety net run from Djibouti, alerting the naval authorities of a similar attack. The threatened yachts closed ranks and managed to outrun the attackers. It is presumed that in both cases the pirates may have been Somali.

March 27, 2003 Lynne and Chris Morgan on the yacht MALAIKA were boarded by pirates at Punta Hermosa, Puerto Velero, Baranquilla, Colombia. Just after midnight six men boarded the anchored yacht armed with guns and knives and broke into the cabin – Lynne and Chris escaped by swimming ashore, while the yacht was stripped of all its valuables. The Colombian Coastguard answered a distress call on VHF Channel 16 but did not come to the yacht, and so far no one has been apprehended for the crimes. This is the fourth boat to be attacked in as many months in the same anchorage, it appears by the same gang.

May 5th 2003 At 0730hrs, 27Nm of the coats of Yemen, Al Mukallah, M/Y Gulf Breeze (90' private motoryacht, George Town No. 735562, callsign ZCIC 7)was chased by possible pirates. The yacht was follwing the coastline after a departure from Salalah and bound for Aden, speed 12 knots. When it became apparent that the yacht was being chased we altered course away from the coastline and reached a speed of 28 knots. Several other open boats came into the picture from different directions, perhaps as many as 9. We managed to keep our distance and a total of 10 large rocket flares were fired into the direction of the small crafts. It did not seem to impress them as the chase was continued. We manged to establish communications with a US coalition warship, who also directed a coalition warplane to our position. Perhaps by seeing the plane, our speed of 28 knots, the flares we shot the possible pirates gave up. Later on we were intercepted by the US coalition warship who escorted us for a little while when back on our course to Aden. We reached Port Aden safely and reported the incident to the Port authorities. Capt. Harry Buitlaar M/Y Gulf Breeze

January 30 2004 "Joe's Dog" : Italian sailor killed on his catamaran 50 km off Isla de Margarita, while en route to Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela. Bruno Bianchella was sailing from Trinidad with two friends, when pirates from a small motor boat carrying at least eight people boarded the catamaran on the pretext that they required water. Once on board they drew their guns, the captain and his two Italian companions had difficulty understanding the robbers demands and in the confusion the captain attempted to escape into the yacht’s cabin and was shot. The two friends, Daniel Fusco and Lidio Banchetti, were unharmed.

February 23rd, 2004: US s/v Klondike owned by Donald & Kathyrn Radcliffe. Pursued by possible pirates on two separate occasions, but Klondike motorsailed at full speed and pursuers abandoned chase. Read full report at Yachts Pursued And Attacked In Gulf Of Aden

February 27th, 2004: French Yacht Le Notre Dame boarded and robbed by armed fishermen/pirates at 13 degrees 30 minutes North and 47 degrees 51 minutes East. The yacht was approached at 1300 local time about 30 miles off the Yemen coast by a small fishing vessel with 5 men on board. The men had knives and automatic rifles, and took cash, cameras, binoculars, and other easily accessible valuables. The crew was shaken but unharmed, and proceeded to Aden. In this case, a Coalition warship heard the relayed distress message on VHF, asked commercial shipping to assist, and responded with a helicopter some 6 hours later.

February 28th, 2004 A boarding and armed robbery occurred in Punta Pargo Venezuela (10.43N 62.034W) on sailing yacht Myriad, a 40 feet aluminum sloop of French registry, with the one person aboard, Robert Monnier, traveling from Cumanà to Trinidad, being shot at by the intruders.

March 2004 S/Y Saltaire, skipper Bill Morris, attacked in the Gulf of Aden on Friday, 5 March 2004 at N 13 13', E 48 33, approximately 45 miles south of the Yemeni coast. A wooden dhow, black in color with a wide, yellow, horizontal stripe and an orange plastic sheet on the bow approached the yacht blocking its path. At a distance of about 50 meters, one of the three men standing on the raised rear deck fired three warning shots with a semiautomatic rifle. Three men boarded the yacht and robbed valuables including radios and cameras while the gunman kept guard in the cockpit.

April 27, 2004 Rabaul, Papua New Guinea: An Australian couple on a 40-foot yacht was attacked by five armed men on the evening of 27 April 2004, at a Rabaul Yacht Club mooring. The suspects smashed the radio as well as stealing money and jewelry. The men came in two canoes and were armed with two shotguns. They held the couple at gunpoint and tied them up before escaping. Fortunately they were not harmed.

September 2004 Near Lae, Papua New Guinea: Australian Registered Yacht "Tanandra" with a crew of two robbed and attacked at Cape Gerhards, Hamisch Harbour PNG.

January 30 2005 French yacht attacked 07°20N and 50°15E, south-east of Eil (Somalia). (no details as yet)

March 2005 Violent attack 30 miles off the coast of Yemen at 13°28' North 48°07' East on yachts Mahdi & Gandalf.