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Pirate scare in Gulf of Aden - French yacht found empty

by Des Ryan on 10 Sep 2011
Blue Water Rally in Djibouti - four sailors part of this rally in 2011 were shot dead by pirates .. .
Confusion surrounds the fate of two yachts, reportedly French, which left the port of Aden in Yemen headed for Omani waters. On board one yacht was a couple, and there were four crew on the other.

While it defies belief that there are still yachts willing to take the life-or-death risk of transiting these waters after the kidnaps and murders of recent months, it seems clear that at least these two yachts have attempted the journey.


Yemeni authorities have reported that they have rescued a cruising sailor and his female partner when they issued a May Day owing to technical problems from their yacht after departing Yemen. They had been about 120 miles off the coastline.

Deputy Director of Yemeni Coastguard Authority- Aden sector - Abdul-Rahman Moussa said that the authority was reported of the rescue operation by the coalition forces. He said the couple had arrived in Aden on 19th August and departed on 4th September.

However, a yacht has also been found empty and floating by a German frigate Bayern in Omani territorial waters. The fate of the crew is unclear.

The French Foreign Ministry has confirmed earlier that a French-registered boat had been found by a German frigate with no crew on it off the coast of Al-Mahra. He added that they had probably been abducted by pirates.

The Al-Mahra governorate is in the east of Yemen and borders the sultanate of Oman.

Shipping and maritime sources say Somali pirates have been using the remote island of Socotra, close to the Mahra coastline, as a refuelling hub and that sea borne gangs have been exploiting political turmoil in Yemen.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said that after receiving a distress call on Thursday night, French authorities contacted the international anti-piracy mission, which dispatched the closest vessel, a German frigate.

'We are a monitoring the situation closely and we have taken precautionary measures that would enable us to handle a development of the situation,' Armed Forces spokesman Thierry Burkhard said.

The empty yacht is currently being towed into port for further analysis as to whether the French couple abandoned their yacht during their rescue, or whether there are still four crew missing.

Naval and coastguard authorities in the region report to their own superiors and this is not the first time that communication between the forces patrolling the Gulf of Aden have been found to be wanting.

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