Somali pirates move north towards the Red Sea – Confirmed by Cruisers

Published 13 years ago, updated 4 years ago

Comment Received from Mark Jensen in response to this warning, who transited the Gulf of Aden in February 2010

Sun, 11 Jul 2010

We transited the Gulf of Aden into the Red Sea in February 2010 and confirm this warning (below).

We encountered pirate activity very close to the Straits of Bab al-Mandab.

We had a visual sighting of a skiff attacking a fast, huge, new, container ship just 30 miles before Bab al-Mandab in a direct line from Aden. Many cruisers stop over in Aden and convoys disband. However, I distinctly feel Aden is NOT safe and the passage from Aden to Bab al-Mandab is dangerous.

The VHF voice of a container ship captain close to panic as I lifted the binoculars and actually saw the skiff was a moment I’ll not forget. Fortunately, we were able to turn 180 deg and slip into the gathering night. It was blowing 25kts so drop the idea that Pirates don’t operate in over 15kts. Remember: Most vulnerable time is sunset to last light.

We had voice comms with UKMTO via our Sat phone and they said the pirates approached from the Somali side and exited TOWARDS the Yemeni coast (NOT back towards Somalia). The ship was doing 25 knots and the Captain said the pirate skiff was doing 26 knots. I distinctly feel that both coasts need to be treated with the utmost caution. Convoys should be held together until into the Red Sea and utmost diligence is from first light to sunrise, and, sunset to last light.

Finally: Yes yachts can be actively defended without guns. Use your creativity.

Not all cruisers who transited with us believe there is any danger what-so-ever and would disagree with all I have written.

I am open to answering readers’ questions via the contact form on our website.

Mark Jensen


(ISAF reaffirms warning)

Fri, 2 Jul 2010

Once cruising sailors had sailed the Gulf of Aden and reached the vicinity of the Strait of Bab el Mandeb, in reach of Red Sea waters, they would sigh with relief, as this was the sure signal that they had passed the dangerous pirate zone… but no more.

Yemeni Coast Guard police, in a statement distributed to the Media Centre of the Ministry of Interior, said that the pirates of Somalia have turned their activities to the area of the Strait of Bab al-Mandab due to poor marine conditions in the Gulf of Aden.

The Coast Guard said to the security information center that Somalia pirates have attacked since the beginning of this month at least 10 Yemeni ships and one oil tanker, all foiled by the security teams of police officers and Coast Guard escorting ships.

The Yemeni Coast Guard said that the security protection team accompanying vessels thwarted all attempts of kidnapping by pirates in Somalia, which were all in the area of the Strait of Bab al-Mandab.

They added that the pirates of Somalia have used the land area of the Strait of Bab al-Mandab as a stepping-off place for their activity and that the Coast Guard has taken all necessary measures to combat piracy in the Strait of Bab al-Mandab.

Military advice, which is based on past and current experience and also intelligence reports, remains that the transit of yachts through the Gulf of Aden is extremely dangerous and yachts are still strongly recommended to avoid the area.

by Sail-World Cruising

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