Indian Ocean MARSEC Updates
By Ilias Papadopoulos
Master in International Relations & Strategic Studies
This last week was a busy one for maritime security in the Indian Ocean, with three incidents taking place. While these events did not escalate to a full scale engagement they remind us that while severely hampered, piracy business in Aden is still around.
To take events from the top, in 20/05 at 07.47 a vessel was approached by four skiffs that circled around it for 20-30 minutes. The skiffs seemed to bear no arms, but nevertheless the on board security team showed its weapons as the rules of engagement dictate and the skiffs broke contact. Further to that, 20 minutes after the first approach at 08.27, the same vessel was approached by three skiffs this time visibly bearing cables. Again the security team was mobilized, they showed their firearms and the suspicious skiffs broke contact with no further action. We must mention that the incident was reported in UKMTO with some considerable delay by the vessel.
Furthermore in 21/05 at 08.00 a vessel was suspiciously approached by two skiffs, who in total bore seven suspects on board with their faces covered. In this incident the on board security team after showing their firearms, fired warning shots and the skiffs broke contact only after a further two were fired. All action were in accordance to the rules of engagement, and nothing further took place.
This time in the region begins the monsoon, which in turn brings a greater flow of skiffs in the waters. This creates more opportunities for potential piracy incidents and we strongly urge the companies to exercise extreme caution while transiting the region. Further to that in the incident of 20/05, there was a considerable delay in reporting the incident to the proper authorities (UKMTO). This can potentially create a security incident in other vessels operating in the area, thus we urge companies to adhere BMP4 to the best of their abilities.
While piracy in the region is in a historical low, it is far from over and only defensive measures such as the ones proposed in BMP can help in combating the phenomenon with success.