If last issue’s Unidentified Floating Objects aren’t really a threat to motor yachts, then what are? Pirates, maybe?
No, pirates are no longer a major threat to yachts travelling to the Middle East. Yes, pirates were a big problem in the Gulf of Aden 10 years ago, or so, with the infamous Somali pirates beginning the reign of terror in 2008. Here, almost un challenged, they attacking 48 vessels, which were mainly tankers, bulk carriers and even fishing boats. Piracy peaked one year later, with 69 attacks, dropping to 48 attempts in 2011, with 10 reports in 2012. By this time, the patrolling international maritime forces, convoys and VPDs (Vessel Protection Detachments) had virtually wiped out the threat, with only four attacks recorded since.
Last year, out of the 174 recorded worldwide piracy incidents, there was just a single attack reported in the Gulf of Aden. Here, two skiffs chased a taker underway off the coast of Yemen, firing shots as they closed to around 100 metres. The armed guards on board the tanker returned the kindness and the pirates fled, as you would, when met with accurate gunfire from a troop of ex military personnel. Although pirates aren’t the brightest of chaps (there are numerous reports of pirates mistakenly attacking military frigates) the sight of these bearded, tattooed, heavily armed ex soldiers is enough to get any would be attacker to flee back to the mothership, tales between their legs.
Crews are also considerably more able to deal with threats, with Best Management Practices, that basically follow these measures: Don’t be alone. Do not be detected. Do not be surprised. Do not be vulnerable. Do not be boarded and do not be controlled. You can bet any ship’s crew will have planned the passage in advance and they know exactly what to do should a pair of skiffs start heading towards their vessel. With the Gulf of Aden now a no go area for pirates, they have moved their business elsewhere, with the Gulf of Guinea and especially the South China Sea being the main areas of today’s pirate operations and again, we’re talking bulk carriers, tankers and fishing vessels, not yachts.