NATO Shipping Center: Weekly Piracy Update


During the period from 21-27 November 2012 there was one piracy related incident reported in the High Risk Area (HRA). This incident was assessed as suspicious activity and occurred off the coast in the Somali Basin. Subsequently, an area of concern was established in the vicinity. Merchant vessels are advised to remain vigilant throughout the HRA and ensure that Self Protection Measures are in place as Pirate Attack Groups (PAGs) may be operating in the area. For more information, please consult our PAG map; available on the NATO Shipping Centre website:

Sea states remain favourable to piracy despite the approaching Northeast Monsoon although they are expected to increase in the coming weeks. Seasonal changes are not likely to be a severe hindrance to piracy in the HRA as small boats may still be capable of operating in these conditions.

Southern Red Sea (SRS)/Bab Al Mandeb (BAM)/Gulf of Aden (GOA)/Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) During the past few months there have been continued reports concerning suspicious activity in the SRS, BAM and GOA.

Fishing activity is expected to continue in this area. Fishermen may carry small arms. Masters are reminded to remain vigilant in order to distinguish between fishing vessels and potential pirates.

Arabian Sea (AS)/Greater Somali Basin (SB)/Gulf of Oman (GOO)/Mozambique Channel (MC)
These areas also see regular fishing activity.

Counter Piracy Guidance Update

Masters are advised that the threat of piracy against merchant shipping is always present throughout the entire HRA and vessels are advised to ensure all necessary Self Protection Measures are implemented as recommended in BMP4. As per Section 5 of BMP4, early registration with MSCHOA before entering the HRA and regular reporting to UKMTO are highly recommended. Prudent and timely implementation of all recommended actions and ship hardening measures in BMP4 can make the critical difference of being approached, attacked, or pirated. NSC would like to remind masters that BMP4 highly recommends maintaining best possible vessel speed when transiting the HRA to deter pirate boardings.

Successful disruptions by naval forces over the past few months, in conjunction with masters’ adherence and implementation of BMP4, have significantly reduced the pirates’ ability to capture vessels. Somali pirates have shown the ability to act far off the coast of Somalia and in darkness. Somali pirates are in search of vessels of opportunity, such as those who are not employing BMP4 recommended Ship Protection Measures.

Both dhows and whalers can be used as motherships. In the northern SB and AS the preferred motherships are local dhows, whereas in the southern SB, eight-metre whalers are preferred, weather permitting. Information and photographs regarding known pirate motherships are available at If you have any information regarding pirate motherships please send it to us on

There have been a number of incidents reported to Counter Piracy organisations in the HRA involving small craft approaches to merchant vessels. Although these incidents may appear to be piracy related, the majority actually are not and have been assessed as non-piracy related activity common to the pattern of life in the area. This can include fishing, small vessel trade, smuggling and other local traffic. Please note that, if we assess an approach or incident to be piracy, we will issue relevant warnings and alerts, keeping the merchant shipping community fully informed at all times.

It has been observed that some Masters are choosing to phone their Company Security Officer (CSO) first in the event of a piracy incident. However, one of the fundamental requirements of BMP4 is that UKMTO is the primary point of contact for merchant vessels during piracy incidents in the HRA. This aims to avoid unnecessary delay and prevent inaccurate or incomplete information from reaching military commanders. CSOs should ensure their ships’ security plans reinforce the BMP4 recommendation that UKMTO be immediately telephoned at +971 50 55 23215 in the event of any piracy activity. UKMTO will then make it a priority to contact the CSO with any information received whilst ensuring the relevant information reaches the military commanders with the minimum of delay.

Masters are also reminded that a large number of fishing vessels operate in the SRS, the BAM and up to 50 nm off the west coast of India. Fishing vessels may approach a merchant ship in order to maximise fishing opportunities or to safeguard fishing nets. Fishing off India is generally carried out using long lines by mechanized or single-hull boats which typically have outboard motors and carry 4-6 crew members. Masters are requested to ensure they distinguish between fishing vessels and potential pirates; fishermen may carry small arms.
Sailing yachts should avoid transiting the HRA. With the end of the Southwest Monsoon, the weather and sea states in the Indian Ocean and the Southern Red Sea will become more conducive to pirate activity. Past activity has shown that pirates will also attack both large and small yachts passing their way. Despite the fact that attacks on merchant vessels appear to have decreased, the possibility of attacks and the successful pirating of sailing vessels remains likely due to their vulnerability and the reduction of revenue sources from merchant vessels.
As noted above, if an incident occurs, Masters are to report immediately to UKMTO via telephone at +971 50 55 23215 and provide as much accurate information as possible. This will ensure the information is quickly provided to other ships in the area for their awareness and vigilance. If Masters are safely able to take pictures and/or video of the suspicious activity, please provide these via email to UKMTO at, to the NSC (NATO Shipping Centre) at and to the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) This information will be used by Counter Piracy forces to combat piracy activity



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