Red Sea cruisers re­turn af­ter piracy crack­down

Yachting Monthly - - NEWS -

Cruisers are re­turn­ing to the south­ern Red Sea af­ter years of avoid­ing the re­gion due to the threat of piracy.

A spokesman for the Com­bined Task Force 151 (CTF 151), a multi­na­tional naval force set up in 2009 in re­sponse to piracy at­tacks in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of So­ma­lia, told YM there had been a steady in­crease in mar­itime traf­fic and yachts trav­el­ling through the Bab el-man­deb Strait.

CTF 151 usu­ally fo­cuses on com­mer­cial ship­ping but now wants to en­gage with cruisers to pro­mote best prac­tice, re­as­sure them about se­cu­rity in the re­gion, and gain feed­back and ob­ser­va­tions on the ef­fec­tive­ness of CTF 151 ac­tiv­i­ties.

Com­man­der Ta­suku Kawanami from CTF 151 said that although piracy has been sup­pressed in the re­gion (there have been no in­ci­dents in 2018), partly due to the con­stant pres­ence of war­ships, the ‘driv­ers of piracy’ still ex­ist.

He said that yachts are not re­quired to reg­is­ter with the Royal Navy’s United King­dom Ma­rine Trade Op­er­a­tions (UKMTO), which pro­vides mar­itime se­cu­rity in­for­ma­tion, or the Euro­pean Union Naval Force’s Mar­itime Se­cu­rity Cen­tre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA), but strongly rec­om­mended cruisers do so. He also stressed the need to use AIS in the south­ern Red Sea.

‘Track­ing ves­sels by AIS and through the UKMTO al­lows us to re­spond quickly if there is a mar­itime se­cu­rity in­ci­dent as we know where to start look­ing. It also al­lows us to gauge which routes are pre­ferred by the var­i­ous ships and yachts that come through and to build up a com­pre­hen­sive pic­ture of pat­terns of life by sailors in the area,’ he said.

Cmdr Kawanami ad­vised cruisers to fol­low the rec­om­mended Best Man­age­ment Prac­tices doc­u­ment from the mil­i­tary and ship­ping in­dus­try, which gives guid­ance on sail­ing the south­ern Red Sea.

For­mer Royal Navy coun­ter­piracy com­man­der Gerry North­wood is a direc­tor of Mar­itime As­set Se­cu­rity and Train­ing. He urged those think­ing of sail­ing in the south­ern Red Sea to take ad­e­quate pre­cau­tions.

‘In­ci­dents of at­tacks have gone right down in the Gulf of Aden and the wider In­dian Ocean but I would say that any­one who thinks the sit­u­a­tion is OK is not read­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Ye­men. You have a very se­ri­ous con­flict there which has spread into mar­itime and it would not take too much for some­one to get caught in the cross­fire. My ad­vice is if you want to take a live­aboard yacht to that area, find another way of get­ting to the Sey­chelles or take an armed se­cu­rity team.’

He also high­lighted the threat of ‘mar­itime mug­ging’, whereby a boat is in­vaded by armed in­trud­ers to steal valu­ables. ‘This low-level stuff is dif­fi­cult to counter if you are a yachts­man as there is no law and order. The po­lice don’t do any­thing and the crim­i­nals know it,’ he said.

As well as feed­back from sailors about CTF 151’s ef­fec­tive­ness in the south­ern Red Sea, the multi­na­tional naval force would also like so-called Pat­tern of Life re­ports de­tail­ing what skip­pers have seen on their jour­neys and their gen­eral im­pres­sions of sail­ing in the area. These should be sent to cm­f_info@me.navy.mil.

An in­for­ma­tion pack de­signed for cruisers cross­ing the south­ern Red Sea is be­ing de­vel­oped and will be avail­able from MSCHOA.

The pres­ence of naval war­ships and co­or­di­nated se­cu­rity has re­duced piracy in the Red Sea re­gion in re­cent years

At­tacks tend to hap­pen in the Gulf of Aden, where there is a large vol­ume of ship­ping

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