1. UKMTO released two Advisories this week with two subsequent updates (see page 3).
2. On 13 Mar 17 the Comoros flagged oil tanker MV Aris 13 reported being approached by two skiffs in psn 1201.67N 05127.25E off the NE coast of Somalia. The MV reported seeing armed persons in one of the skiffs. Communications were lost with the MV but SSAS tracking showed that the vessel had changed course and eventually anchored off the town of Caluula in NE Puntland. The operations company representing the ship’s owner confirmed to UKMTO that there were 8 Sri Lankan nationals onboard and that they had been contacted by the persons holding the vessel but no ransom demands had been made. On 16 Mar after negotiation between the Somali Government, the Puntland Maritime Defence Force and local elders the MV was released by it’s captors and is currently achored off the Somali port of Bosaso. All the crew are safe. (a) and (b).
3. This event was the first Hijacking of a merchant vessel in the HRA since May 2012. Although it is still unclear why the ship was taken, it is likely to be attributable to a number of social and economic reasons. Illeagal fishing inside Somali TTW, the onset of famine and lack of employment has created conditions which could see a return to sustained piracy off the Somalia coast (c) and (d).
4. Furthermore, this incident serves as a timely reminder to the Maritime Shipping Industry to guard against complacency, merchant ships are strongly advised to comply with BMP4 guide lines and register their passage with UKMTO and MSCHOA, transit the Gulf of Aden using the full extent of the IRTC and maintain a high state of vigilance throughout the HRA.