Stena Bulk’s chemical tanker Stena Imperial reported a suspected pirate approach on November 3, whilst on northbound passage through the Red Sea west of Yemen.
The Swedish tanker shipping company said that two suspicious skiffs approached Stena Imperial from the port side at a distance of 1.5 nautical miles. The vessel was on its way from Far East to Rotterdam for discharge.
The crew raised the alarm and the Master and the security team deployed on board mustered on the bridge.
“Hand flares were fired towards the skiffs as warning shot as they were continuously approaching towards the vessel. Master broadcasted a security message about the attempted attack and also contacted a close by warship,” the company said.
Both skiffs ceased approach after flares were fired from the vessel and passed by the stern. One of the skiffs tried to approach the vessel again, however, it abandoned the attempt after another round of flares. The skiff then slowed down and moved towards another vessel, the company added.
Stena Bulk employs security teams on board its ships passing through high risk areas, primarily off the coasts of Yemen and Nigeria. The team is not allowed to use its weapons unless the captain has approved.
”On the whole the pirate situation in the Gulf of Aden has calmed down and there have not been any hijackings for a long time. But when we sail off the coast of Yemen we choose to use guards due to the lawless state prevailing in the country at the moment.
“This has created the same kind of desperation in the population as we saw in Somalia a number of years ago. But we are monitoring the situation closely via our security department, which also keeps an eye on the situation in general on the global level. For us it is extremely important to take the measures that are required so that the crew feel safe, and that we at the same time follow the local regulations,”comments Erik Hånell, CEO Stena Bulk.