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Web Alert: Somali piracy - recent attack shows there is no room for complacency

11 April 2017

On 8 April 2017, the bulk carrier OS 35 was attacked and boarded by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Fortunately, the ship’s 19 Filipino crew were released unharmed after being rescued by the Chinese Navy, supported by the Indian Navy. The crew had sought refuge in the ship’s citadel and were able to send a distress signal following the attack.

The attack on OS 35 follows the first hijacking by Somali pirates for five years, when an oil tanker was captured (and subsequently freed) last month. A fishing trawler was then captured, presenting the risk it could be used as a mother ship to support further attacks.

Recent years have seen a marked decline in successful pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden and wider Indian Ocean which has been credited to the use of armed guards on board ships, the activities of navies patrolling the area and more widespread adherence to ‘Best Management Practices’ (BMP).

However, the recent attacks illustrate the need to avoid complacency when transiting high-risk areas, to follow BMP and to implement appropriate security measures following a voyage-specific risk assessment.