The Iranian Navy has thwarted the second attempted pirate attack in a month, according to Iranian officials.
An Iranian vessel, Bootanon, carrying liquid natural gas, was crossing the Bab el-Mandeb straight on Sunday morning when it was attacked by eight pirate boats, according to Admiral Siavash Jareh, Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Navy for Operations.
He said that Iranian naval forces from the Navy’s 27th fleet responded to the attack, firing on the pirates and causing them to flee, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
This incident comes after Iranian naval forces thwarted the hijack of an oil tanker earlier in the month. Jareh said the Iranian tanker was attacked by a pirate boat on October 6, but the pirates fled after the Navy responded. However, they returned with more boats and were once again driven back. After the second incident the Iranian Navy escorted the tanker through the Gulf of Aden, Jareh said.
The Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008, when Somali raiders hijacked the Iranian-chartered cargo ship, MV Delight, off the coast of Yemen.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s Navy has escorted 1 538 cargo ships in the Gulf of Aden so far,” Commander of the Iranian Army’s 4th Naval Zone Admiral Khordad Hakimi told news agency FNA last month.
He said pirates’ attempts to hijack 112 cargo ships and oil tankers in international waters have been aborted due to the timely action of the Iranian warships deployed in the region.
The Iranian Navy’s 27th fleet comprises the Khark helicopter carrier and Sabalan destroyer. The 27th fleet was dispatched to protect the region in August, taking over from the 26th flotilla.
According to the International Maritime Bureau, as of August 31, there have been ten reported incidences of Somali piracy this year, including two hijackings. Somali pirates are currently holding 57 hostages. Due to the success of multinational anti-piracy patrols off Somalia, piracy off East Africa has dropped, but risen off West Africa, with the International Maritime Bureau recording 28 incidents and two hijackings off Nigeria for 2013.