Just as a private security firm has warded off another pirate attack on a large yacht in the Arabian Sea, the US Coast Guard has joined the call for Americans to stay away from waters anywhere within reach from Somalia - and that's a long way these days.
Private security firm Naval Guards Ltd successfully rescued their Dutch clients on board the yacht Capricorn at position 02 24 S 046 07 E after it had been overrun by pirates in the central Arabian Sea this week.
The crew of the 21-metre Capricorn had contracted Naval Guards Ltd to provide armed escort for their eastbound trip from Djibouti in the western Gulf of Aden, through the Arabian Sea, something beyond the pocket of most cruising sailors.
Operations Chief of the security company, Thomas Jakobssen, explained to that the 42-meter escort vessel had been shadowing the Capricorn at a distance of approximately 100m when both vessels were attacked simultaneously by the Somali pirates. Reacting quickly, Capricorn’s crew - the Captain and an engineer - fled to previously rehearsed hiding spots on the yacht, buying them valuable time as their rescuer’s fought off the pirates.
After a fierce exchange of gunfire between the pirates and the escort vessel, there were no injuries reported on either side, and only minor damage to the vessels themselves. With a clear firepower advantage however, the Naval Guards quickly gained control of the situation and the pirates gave up.
'The pirates are becoming more aggressive', Jakobssen explained. 'Our team was on board a grey ship with military markings in very close proximity to the Capricorn. These pirates were likely on their way home empty-handed and desperate for whatever they could get.'
The Indian Ocean attack follows the deaths of four Americans last month after their yacht was taken. Last week a Danish family and two crew aboard a yacht also were seajacked and are now in captivity onshore in Somalia or on a ship close to shore. Warning to U.S. Registered Yachts and Sailing Vessels: Probably as a result of the recent increase in aggression and ruthlessness of the pirates, the US Coast Guard has issued this warning: The U.S. Coast Guard strongly advises against all operation of and travel by U.S. yachts and sailing craft, or by U.S. citizens on foreign registered yachts and sailing craft, on the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Somali Basin and the western parts of the Indian Ocean. A U.S. registered sailing vessel was hijacked by pirates in February 2011 off the southern coast of Oman in the northern Arabian Sea and all of its crew were tragically killed. This case is a stark reminder of the grave dangers of operating in these high risk waters, especially by recreational vessels.
All mariners already in these waters are urged to register with the Maritime Security Centre (Horn of Africa) for up to date advice and guidance on passage round the Horn of Africa. They should also report regularly to the UKMTO (email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: +971 50 552 3215), giving location, course and speed, and plan their routing carefully to reduce the risk of an attack.
Piracy is a significant threat in the Gulf of Aden and the northwest Indian Ocean and has occurred in excess of 1000 nautical miles from the coast of Somalia. Up-to-date information about attacks and pirated vessels can be referenced from the EU Naval Force Somalia web site at http://www.eunavfor.eu. Sailing vessels are particularly vulnerable to attack due to their low speed and low freeboard. All mariners intending to sail through high risk areas should reconsider the necessity of their travel and alternatives, such as transporting the vessel by yacht carrier.
Participants in yacht races and rallies in these high risk areas are at great risk of attack. These events are often publicized and could draw attention from pirates, despite the security and safety measures that might be put in place. The U.S. Coast Guard strongly advises mariners not to participate in events that will require transit through high risk waters.
Requirements and amplifying guidance promulgated by the U.S. Coast Guard for commercial vessels intending to transit high risk waters are unaffected by this advisory.
In addition CDR David G. McClellan, Chief, Prevention Operations Department, USCG Sector Miami has since issued the following:
R 041954Z MAR 11
FM COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC//CG-54//
SUBJ: SPECIAL NOTICE TO MARINER (NTM) FOR US YACHTS AND SAILING VESSELS REGARDING PIRACY OFF THE COAST OF SOMALIA
1. ON 18 FEB 11, A U.S. REGISTERED SAILING VESSEL WITH 4 US CITIZENS ON BOARD WAS HIJACKED BY SOMALI PIRATES IN THE ARABIAN SEA, 282NM SE OF SUR, OMAN. DURING NEGOTIATIONS FOR RELEASE OF THE VESSEL, THE 4 US CITIZENS ONBOARD WERE KILLED.
2. THE EXTREME HAZARDS OF OPERATING OFF THE COAST OF SOMALIA IN THE GULF OF ADEN AND THE ARABIAN SEA SOUTH TO THE MOZAMBIQUE CHANNEL AND EAST TO THE COAST OF INDIA, REQUIRES IMMEDIATE EDUCATION OF THE RISK TO ANY U.S. REGISTERED PLEASURE VESSEL OPERATING IN THESE WATERS OR U.S. CITIZENS PLANNING TO TRANSIT THESE AREAS ON FOREIGN FLAG REGISTERED PLEASURE VESSELS.
3. A SPECIAL NOTICE TO MARINERS WARNING VESSEL OPERATORS OF THIS RISK HAS BEEN RELEASED THROUGH THE NAVCENS WEBSITE
) AND THROUGH DISTRICT LOCAL NOTICES TO
MARINERS. THE SPECIAL NOTICE HAS BEEN PROVIDED TO NATIONAL BOATING FEDERATION, NASBLA, US SAIL, BOAT US, US POWER SQUADRON, AND OTHER BOATING/YACHTING ENTHUSIAST GROUPS TO POST OR LINK THROUGH THEIR WEB SITES OR PUBLISH IN THEIR NEWSLETTERS, TWITTER-FACEBOOK OR BLOG POSTS, OR MONTHLY MAGAZINES.
4. OCEANGOING SAILING VESSEL RALLIES AND U.S. PLEASURE VESSELS INVOLVED IN CIRCUMNAVIGATION VOYAGES MAY BE UNAWARE OF THE EXTREME RISK TO LIFE AND VESSELS OPERATING OFF THE EAST COAST OF AFRICA. THE SUBJECT NTM WAS SPECIFICALLY RELEASED TO REINFORCE THESE IMPORTANT CONCERNS AND TO PROVIDE CONTACT INFORMATION TO DIRECTLY SUPPORT THE SAILOR IN THAT THEY MAY HAVE OR PLAN VOYAGES THROUGH THESE HIGH RISK WATERS.
THE WIDEST DESEMINATION OF THIS NTM TO THE PUBLIC AND US REGISTERED OCEAN YACHT OPERATORS IS IMPERATIVE.
5. DISTRICT AND UNIT RECREATIONAL BOATING SPECIALISTS, AND UNIT AUXILIARISTS SHOULD ENSURE WIDEST DISSEMINATION/EDUCATION OF THIS NTM AND TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO MEET WITH YACHTING CENTER MANAGERS AND POST/DISTRIBUTE THE SUBJECT DOCUMENT DIRECTLY TO YACHT OPERATORS/OWNERS WHO COULD BE PLANNING FUTURE CIRCUMNAVIGATION VOYAGES.
6. COMDT ( CG-54222 ) POC: MR. JOSEPH CARO, 202-372-1068.
7. RADM KEVIN COOK, DIRECTOR OF PREVENTION POLICY, SENDS.
8. INTERNET RELEASE AUTHORIZED.
CDR David G. McClellan
Chief, Prevention Operations Department, Sector Miami-
100 MacArthur Causeway
Miami Beach, FL 33139