Gulf of Aden Under Siege: Escalating Somali Pirate Activity Sparks Alarm

The Indian Navy heroically saved the MV RUEN in the waters off Somalia on March 16, 2024. A European naval squad captured six suspected pirates who attacked an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden. These incidents are part of a rising trend in piracy activities originating from Somalia.

The pirates assaulted the Chrystal Arctic, a ship sailing under the Marshall Islands’ flag, with firearms and ladders. They carried rifles and grenades, according to Ambrey, a private security company. A skirmish ensued between the pirates and the vessel’s armed security team.

After a failed attempt to hijack the tanker, the pirates fled as the ship proceeded on its journey unharmed. Smoke billowed from the pirates’ vessel due to a likely fuel drum explosion. Later, the EU naval force detained the suspects aboard a frigate, noting their injuries.

Although it remains uncertain if the injuries were caused during the clash with the Chrystal Arctic, details are scarce to maintain operational security. Ambrey identified the detaining vessel as Italy’s ITS Federico Martinego frigate. Pirate activities off Somalia declined significantly post-2011 due to increased naval presence and strengthened governance.

However, recent reports indicate a resurgence in piracy incidents, particularly by Somali pirates targeting vessels afar. The International Maritime Bureau warned of the escalating threat and highlighted incidents involving hijacked fishing vessels as platforms for further attacks.

In a separate incident, Indian navy captured numerous pirates who held a ship hostage, while the pirates released crew members of another captured vessel. These incidents coincide with the Houthi rebels’ operations targeting shipping as part of their broader strategic objectives.

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