Grenada: Suspicious Activity Offshore – February 2019
By CSSN — Mar 16, 2019
A boat displaying flashing blue and red lights and no AIS identity made several attempts to intercept a yacht 38 miles off the east coast of Grenada.
Published 4 years ago
Country Name: Grenada
Location Detail: Offshore
EVENT: Suspicious activity
Stolen Items: None
A 50 ft. catamaran with 5 persons onboard departed Fernando De Noronha, Brazil on 19 January 2019, northbound. To avoid small ships, their routing kept them well off the South American coast, 170 – 200 miles, in international waters. Before approaching the area of Trinidad and Tobago, they filed a float plan with the Trinidad/Tobago Coast Guard and monitored VHF 16/68 continuously.
After passing 50 miles to the east of Tobago, at 8 PM on February 2, at position LAT: 12.27.0 N LONG: 060.47.39 W (approximately 66 miles north of Tobago and 38 miles off the east coast of Grenada) the watch detected a white and red light on the horizon, approaching.
The captain was awoken and confirmed that the light configuration had not altered course or changed bearing. The yachts radar MARPA target confirmed that there was no change on the vessels course. The yacht took immediate avoiding action, turning hard to starboard to pass the vessel port to port. The vessel altered its course to intercept the new course of the yacht. Another avoiding action was taken by the yacht, turning hard to port to pass starboard to the now suspect vessel. The suspect vessel yet again took an intercepting course and MARPA indicated a collision and an increase in speed of the suspect vessel to 6 knots.
The yacht turned on its port engine and furled the sails and turned hard to starboard again. The suspect vessel yet again took an intercepting course and had now closed to about 2 miles. The suspect vessel turned on red and blue flashing lights in an attempt to approach the yacht, but made no radio contact. The suspect vessel continued its intercept approach and ended up within 200 meters while displaying red and blue flashing lights.
The captain and crew recognized the ruse and non-legitimate nature of the light display. The yacht went dark, and engaged the starboard engine. With both engines at full rpm, they fled the impostor vessel at approximately 11 knots. The impostor vessel appeared limited to a speed of 6 knots, and continued its pursuit, but did not identify itself via AIS or make any radio contact. The yacht continued to make course changes over the next several hours as the impostor vessel continued to follow. The yacht arrived in Carriacou the following day, and made reports to Customs and Immigration officials there.
CSSN NOTE: Legitimate marine/law enforcement officials (Trinidad/Tobago, Grenada, USCG) do NOT display flashing red/blue lights, the international standard is flashing/strobe blue, and make clear their intentions to approach closely/board with radio contact or loud hailer.