Shots Fired at Merchant Vessel off Somalia

anti piracyImage Courtesy: Op Atalanta/EUNAVFOR

A merchant vessel was attacked in the Gulf of Aden, offshore Somalia, while transiting the area on October 16, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) informed.

Shots were fired at the Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier, MV KSL Sydney, according to the data released by EUNAVFOR Somalia, from a skiff that tailed the vessel. The incident took place some 340 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia in the Somali Basin.

However, as the armed guards on board the ship returned fire the gang from the skiff abandoned their plan of boarding the vessel and departed.

“Due to the application of best management protection measures by the master, his crew and the private security team, the piracy attack was thwarted and the crew and vessel remained safe. The master had already evacuated the crew to the citadel when the embarked Armed Security Team (PAST) responded to the attack. There was a sustained exchange of fire before the skiff with several armed people on board broke off and changed course away from the bulker,” EU NAVFOR said.

The captain of the ship confirmed to UKMTO that the vessel was safe. There have been injuries reported to the crew.

UKMTO warned the vessels transiting the area to exercise caution. EU NAVFOR coordinated with other counter-piracy missions such as the Combined Maritime Forces dedicated counter-piracy task force to ensure a coordinated response to the attack, with several counter-piracy assets of Operation ATALANTA being deployed in the Somali Basin to maintain heightened vigilance.

The number of incidents in the region has been on the decline over the recent period, predominantly due to the presence of international naval forces in the region.

The latest attack reported off Somalia was in February this year when Singapore-flagged oil/chemical tanker MT Leopard Sun was attacked, some 165 km off the central coast of Somalia.

The tanker was approached by three skiffs and was fired upon by armed pirates. The armed security team on board the vessel returned fire, scaring off the pirates and preventing them from boarding the ship.

World Maritime News Staff

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