According to a report received by the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC), a chemical tanker was hijacked on 4 July 2010 whilst transiting the Bab el Mandeb straits. According to reports, she has 18 crewmembers on board and is sailing towards the Somali coast.
This successful hijacking follows on from an increase in activity in the Bab el Mandeb region since early June 2010. In that period, five vessels reported attempted attacks with a further four reporting having been fired upon.
Due to the ongoing monsoon season, the Somali pirate gangs appear to have shifted their operations into areas where the weather is more conducive to operating the small skiffs on which they approach larger vessels. This move also serves to take them out of the Internationally Recognised Transit Corridor and, thus, further away from the scrutiny of naval vessels engaged in anti-piracy activity.
There have been 101 Somali pirate attacks this year of which 27 vessels have been hijacked. While navigating in the region vessels are urged to operate at a heightened state of readiness, implement Self Protective (defensive) measures in accordance with Best Management Practices Version 3 dated 29 June 2010 and update their position/course/speed to UKMTO every 6 hours in the IRTC.
Merchant vessels transiting this area are requested to register with MSCHOA (www.mschoa.org) and report any incidents and suspicious activity.