Shots fired at bulk crude carrier off the Somali coast

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The weekend saw shots fired at a VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier) by eight armed men in two skiffs some 230 miles off the Somali coast.

The attack, successfully repelled by an armed security team aboard the bulk oil carrier, appears to have been the first off the Horn of Africa following an International Maritime Bureau (IMB) warning to ships’ masters that the monsoon season is over. No damage or injuries were reported from the VLCC.

Four weeks ago the IMB urged ships’ masters not to be complacent when transiting the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The warning follows a decrease to 10 in attacks on ships in the area this year.

This warning has been repeated by the Maritime Security Centre (Horn of Africa, based at EU Naval Force (EUNavFor) in Northwood. The Centre has issued an alert about the whereabouts and nature of the VLCC attack warning other ships transiting the area to be vigilant.

Speaking about the incident EUNavFor Operation Commander Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant said: “The attack demonstrates there is still a clear and present danger from pirates off the Somali coast. It is crucial that naval counter-piracy forces maintain pressure on these criminals and that the maritime industry remains vigilant, taking appropriate precautions to deter an attack.”

The decrease in attacks on ships transiting the once pirate infested waters off the Horn of Africa has been attributed, among others, to the use of professional security teams aboard ships as well as the use of IMB best management practices.

The constant presence of both EUNavFor and Marcom (NATO maritime command) vessels has also contributed to less pirate activity.