Why CSO Alliance
Connecting CSOs
Communicating & Challenging
Confirming Crime
Collaborating Globally
News & Workshops
Contact us
Join now


Icon representing Maritime Information Warfare Conference 2019 -London -November 18-19
Maritime Information Warfare Conference 2019 -London -November 18-19

November 18th 2019
Icon representing CYPnaval Conference - October 2nd - Cyprus
CYPnaval Conference - October 2nd - Cyprus

October 2nd 2019
Icon representing CSOA First Response Report: Iran Seizes British Tanker
CSOA First Response Report: Iran Seizes British Tanker

July 20th 2019

Increasing Security Alerts in Gulf of Aden

March 10th 2017
While Somali piracy remains at a low ebb, with few sightings and credible reports from the region, the ongoing danger to merchant shipping is the spillover from the conflict in Yemen.

2016 saw a number of confirmed attacks on merchant and military traffic, perhaps the most significant of which was the attack on the HSV-Swift and, more recently, the Saudi frigate attacked by a remote-controlled boat bomb which resulted in the deaths of several crew.

The majority of these incidents took place in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, relatively close to the Yemen coast and ports of Hodeidah (Houthi-controlled) and Mocha, now under the control of Yemeni National Army forces. While the ONI recently cautioned that the entrance to the port may be mined, the current threat has moved to the Gulf of Aden.

This week has seen two reports from UKMTO of approaches in the IRTC near Al Mukalla, Yemen. On February 12th, a MV reported an approach by one skiff around 37nm off the Yemen coast. The skiff contained an unknown number of men and a RPG was sighted by the Master. The MV was carrying an armed security team which displayed weapons, leading to the skiff altering course and moving away.

On March 7th, a MV reported being followed by two skiffs containing 16-20 armed men. The skiffs followed the MV astern for 40 minutes. Then, on March 9th, a MV reported that two mother ships had deployed four skiffs that approached the MV to within 1 cable. Onboard AST showed weapons and skiffs retreated.

Had the MV been transiting without armed security, the situation could have been far different.

While Houthi forces have so far not attempted to board a ship, the fact that they are heavily armed and appear to pursue vessels in international waters should not be ignored. We hope that UKMTO or the military in the region will comment on these incidents once more data is available. In the meantime, we urge members to continue to enforce BMP4 measures and, where practical, consider the use of armed security teams to ensure safe passage.