Source: NYA International
Following an investigation into the incident against the Spanish registered LNG tanker GALICIA SPIRIT, Teekay has announced that the skiff that engaged the vessel was carrying “substantial amount of explosives”.
The intention of the attackers is unknown but the “explosives would have been sufficient to have caused significant damage to the vessel. It appears, however, that when the skiff was approximately 20 meters from the vessel, the explosives detonated, destroying the skiff and ending the attack”.
These incidents have been added to MarTrack and updates will be visible on MarTrack Webview
(The original source quoted was UKMTO, this is incorrect)
The damage or destruction of an LPG or LNG vessel such as this in such a strategic area for sea borne commerce would be a 'spectacular' sending shock waves across the world.
Vessels transiting high risk areas will generally have ship hardening measures in place to deter a boarding by pirates, such as Razor Wire around deck edges and railings, fire hoses that disrupt small craft trying to get alongside and a citadel (a safe room) pre-prepared with communications and emergency supplies for the crew to hide out and await military rescue. Advice is provided to the industry in BMP 4 (Best Management Practices 4).
However ships companies will need to review measures to take in case of a directed attack from a small boat crewed by persons intent on their goal and laden with explosives.
ASKET are reviewing and happy to provide free advice on a case by case basis.
Due to the nature of the cargo, Gas Carriers are very well built and the inherent safety features are substantial. They are built with a double steel hull forming a void space between of around 3 metres. On LNG carriers the outer walls of the tanks are made of concrete and the inner tank of high alloy steel with a space between filled with insulation material protecting the liquefied gas inside.
There is always a danger of a follow on explosion if the hull and containers are breached by an Terrorist Bomb.
The devastation that a bomb packed into a small boat used against a larger vessel can cause was proven when on 6 October 2002, the Limburg was carrying crude oil from Iran to Malaysia, was rammed by suicide bombers in explosives-laden dinghy into the starboard side of the tanker.
Upon detonation the vessel caught fire and approximately 90,000 barrels (14,000 m3) of oil leaked into the Gulf of Aden.
Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who allegedly also planned the USS Cole bombing, is thought to have been the mastermind of the attack. Osama bin Laden issued a statement, which read:
By exploding the oil tanker in Yemen, the holy warriors hit the umbilical cord and lifeline of the crusader community, reminding the enemy of the heavy cost of blood and the gravity of losses they will pay as a price for their continued aggression on our community and looting of our wealth.
The USS Cole was struck in Aden Harbour, Yemen on 12 October 2000.
400 to 700 pounds 180 to 320 kg (Around) of explosive were used, causing substantial damage and the deaths of .Seventeen American sailors and 39 injured.
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Source: UKMTO / NYA
Date: 25 October 2016, 1026 UTC
Description: A merchant tanker was approached by a small boat and the occupants fired an RPG at the vessel, the damage is unknown at this time. All crew are safe and the vessel has continued with her passage.
These incidents have been added to MarTrack and updates will be visible on MarTrack Webview.
The vessel attacked was the LNG Carrier Galicia Spirit.
Although reports are still sketchy it seems that the latest attacks are on the vessel themselves to cause damage whether by terrorist groups or paramilitary groups it is more likely that the vessel will be targeted around the hull or cargo.
The purpose of these attacks are probably terrorist which is why they have targeted a prestigious target such as an LNG Carrier, which is generally out of the reach of pirates due to the speed and general structure of the vessel, also the cargo is too complicated to store for long periods as it needs fuel to remain cool and so ransom negotiations which would go on for many months would be cost prohibitive for the pirates.
The use of RPG'S in an attack against a vessel in this shipping choke point is very worrying.
Crews are advised to maintain a good lookout by radar and enhanced watchkeepers, crew should take cover in pre designated areas away from the side of any threat if possible and be prepared to fight any fires caused by an exploding warhead.
Please see ASKET RPG Attack Guidelines - 'ROCKET ATTACK STARBOARD' 'TAKE COVER PORT' http://www.asket.co.uk/single-post/2016/10/27/RPG-Attack-Guidelines
More advice is available from ASKET on request including free Emergency Bridge cards and the ASKET Maritime Security App (iOS and Android) which contains guidance on training and rehearsals for MASTERs and crew.