Reporting indicates that the Panama flagged WAWASAN EMERALD was approached by 6 skiffs to within 0.5nm within the MSTC Bab al Mandab, GoA. Further reporting suggests that there were approximately 5 persons on each skiff. Ladders were sighted within the skiffs however no weapons were reported. Whilst the vessel is showing that guards were embarked it is unknown whether any warning shots were fired.
This incident is the 5th suspicious approach incident within the GoA within 2020. This latest incident is the third reported incident within the last 5 days. Only two of the reports within 2020 have involved sightings of ladders. Only one incident within 2020 has resulted in warning shots being fired.
Thus far, there is no evidence to suggest that these incidents are connected with intended acts of piracy and maritime crime. Whilst the increase in incident reporting is significant, it is vital that normal pattern of life remains held in context for this area. The MSTC is home to a considerable volume of traffic and thus far the volume of reports to transits remains significantly low. This area also is home to a significant naval presence and it is well known by those whom fish these waters and those who would potentially engage in maritime crime activity that the embarking of armed personnel is a common practise. This area is home to high density fishing traffic consisting of light weight, often unlit and poorly maintained fishing vessels. In addition to this, the area is popular with both vessels involved in illicit trade and migration. It remains unlikely that there is a sophisticated PAG operational within the GoA that possesses the necessary capability and intent to pirate a vessel underway. The only logical consequence of which would be to either kidnap crew or hijack the vessel, both of which are deemed highly unlikely in today’s maritime climate within the GoA.