Posted on June 11, 2018 by Hannah Berry

Warnings have been issued that the impending monsoon over the Arabian Peninsula may act as cover for Somalian pirates and assist them in their planned attacks on merchant ships.

The gangs are highly trained and desperate to push in and attack before the monsoon sets in according to Chirag Bahri, South Asia director for the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network.

The stark warning for vigilance comes from Navy and marine monitors who have said that choppy seas which arise as a direct consequence during a monsoon usually make it difficult for pirates to attack in their skiffs. This may force them to attack elsewhere in the Gulf of Aden where weather conditions aren’t as adverse.

Lt Col David Fielder, Royal Marines spokesman with the EU Naval Force Operation Atlanta said “Inter-monsoon periods are the times when piracy threats can increase.”

A plea for information about any attacks has been published to aid seafarers and help them retain focus should they come under attack. Authorities have asked for imagery of any attacks and a detailed description of vessels, objects and behaviour, as they are vital contributors to the analysis and assessment of the threat.

Cyrus Mody, assistant director of the International Maritime Bureau said they work tirelessly to provide ships in the region with current information and cases of Somalian piracy. The pirates often approach ships to determine the level of hardening security they have in place, albeit razor wire, high pressure water hoses or the visible presence of armed guards.

Incidents continue to be reported in Somalia due to ongoing regional conflict and the fragile state of the country.  The risk to all local shipping is intense, as there have been 66 attacks worldwide up to March, of which two took place in this region. However, the number of attacks dropped to 179 last year from 191 in 2016 and 246 in 2015. This decrease can mainly be attributed to the presence of warships policing international waters.

The bureau’s report for the first three months of the year stressed the importance to shipowners, masters and crew of maintaining their security protocols. They said that “Somalian pirates tend to be well armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, and sometimes use skiffs launched from mother vessels that may be hijacked fishing vessels to conduct attacks far from the Somalian coast.” They are now making the most of every opportunity.

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