Honduras: Offshore Piracy, 20 miles off Gordo Bank – January 2017
(January 19, 2017) – As reported by CSSN: Piracy
Published 7 years ago, updated 5 years ago
Country Name: Honduras
Location Detail: Offshore – 20 miles off Gordo Bank
Stolen Items: Computers, smartphone, cash, electronics, binocular, VHF and handheld radios, alcohol, clothing
A French-flagged catamaran departed Isla Providencia (Colombia) for Rio Dulce, Guatemala on 1/18/2017 at 8 AM. Travelling well offshore the Nicaraguan coastline, they turned OFF their AIS transmitter but monitored all traffic closely. They noticed only a few cargo or fishing vessels.
At 0830 on the morning of the 19th, after traveling 175 nm, now located 70 nm off the Nicaraguan coast and 35 nm ESE of the Hobbies islands, they were approached by a single panga from the north with 6-7 men who asked for water and food. They were provided.
At 0900 the same panga returned asking for more, and a pack of cigarettes was given, while suddenly 2 more fishing boats with 40 HP outboards approached at high speed from the south with 6-7 additional men. They converged on the catamaran, rammed and boarded the yacht, now visibly armed with knives and iron bars.
Some of the pirates beat the locked doors and gained entry to the cabin while the others scavenged on deck. The leaders seemed to be looking for drugs but found none. The pirates took computers, a smartphone, cash, assorted electronics, binoculars, VHF and handheld radios, alcohol, clothing, anything that they could grab or remove. After about an hour they departed.
Using a previously hidden VHF, the crew made contact with a nearby merchant cargo ship which then contacted the Colombian navy and piracy agency while diverting in their direction.
At 1030 AM a single panga returned with a mixed group of 8 of the youngest of the original pirates and again boarded, holding knives to the throats of the crew, this time attempting to sever the lock to the yacht dinghy/outboard. They were not successful and became nervous when they heard a VHF transmission from the approaching cargo vessel. The second group of pirates departed.
The crew again made radio contact with the cargo vessel who took all necessary information and agreed to inform Colombian officials, the yacht declined further assistance and both vessels returned to their intended courses.
The yacht proceeded to Guanaja, Honduras without further incident. They arrived on Friday, January 20, and began the process of filing official reports with the police, port captain, Honduran navy and piracy agencies. Much had been stolen, there was damage to the yacht, but no injuries.
Later that late afternoon, on Jan 19th, another vessel on passage from Panama to the Yucatan was boarded and robbed by pirates near the Gordo Bank.