Gulf of Aden Pirates Move Towards Unpredictable Attacks

In the next six months the offshore threats to maritime assets in the Gulf of Aden, whether calculated or opportunistic, will operate outside the normal modus operandi, according to Ambrey Risk Intelligence.

The private maritime security company said this unpredictability is disarming to public and private bodies that rely on trend analysis to inform violent risk forecasts.

“As demonstrated by recent reports, the benchmark for ratifying incidents is neither integrated nor always time sensitive,” Ambrey said.

Ambrey said a suspected pirate action group armed with a shoulder-mounted, rocket-propelled grenade approached a Panama-flagged vessel in Bab el-Mandeb strait on May 18.

The PMSC said the master ordered the armed team on board to respond with force, which deterred the pirates from any further attempts to target the bulk carrier.

Ambrey said this incident was the third advance in as many days and one of at least 15 in the region in the five months to May.

“While it is likely that this particular incident was an opportunistic attempt to bolster a significant, if less profitable, illicit arms trade, the forthcoming southwest monsoon is almost certainly responsible for individuals accepting a higher risk threshold,” the PMSC warned.

On May 6, EU Navfor interdicted a confirmed pirate action group some 320 miles offshore Somalia.

In the week prior to this, a vessel holding up to 20,000 Turkish weapons was seized in the Gulf of Aden; Ambrey said either mission, if successful, would have covered the estimated $607,000 cost of running a pirate group and paid dividends through a traditional period of consolidation out to September.

Another indicator key to the recent volume of activity is likely to be a reported offensive by Puntland security forces, Ambrey said.

On May 9, social media noted that soldiers had secured Bosaso port and in the process displaced businesses. Ambrey said it was the move was likely to force locals to take up illicit employment.

Again, a week prior to this, Ambrey said local authorities are understood to have killed over a dozen suspected militants from al-Shabaab, a Salafi group that is increasingly likely to facilitate or finance piracy given its weakened position since a Kenya-led African Union offensive in 2012.

For more maritime news see Lloyd’s List

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