Stena Bulk reports that on November 3 its 49,750 dwt U.K. flagged tanker Stena Imperial reported a suspected pirate approach while northbound through the Red Sea west of Yemen on her way from Far East to Rotterdam for discharge.
Two suspicious skiffs were found approaching Stena Imperial from the port side at a distance of 1.5 nautical miles. The alarm was raised and the Master and the on board security team mustered on the bridge. Hand flares were fired towards the skiffs as warning shots as they were continuously approaching towards the vessel. The Master broadcast a security message about the attempted attack and also contacted a close by warship. Both skiffs ceased approach after flares were fired from the vessel and passed by the stern. One of the skiffs which passed astern again tried to approach the vessel one more time and once again hand flares were fired. The skiff then slowed down and moved towards another vessel.
Stena Bulk says it employs professional security firms whose teams comprise well-trained former soldiers. Normally there are 3-4 people in each team on board the ships passing through a high risk area. Today, the areas where guards are present on board Stena Bulk vessels are off the coasts of Yemen and Nigeria. The team is not allowed to use its weapons unless the captain has approved. Stena Bulk says that, while guards always follow the captain’s orders, in situations like this they of course provide their professional advice, on which the captain then bases his decisions.
“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,” says Erik Hånell, CEO Stena Bulk. “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.”
Press Releases: Stena Bulk
Photo Courtesy; Stena Bulk