Superyachts Will Be Attacked by Pirates

It is only a matter of time before a superyacht sailing off the African Coast becomes a high-profile target of Somali pirates, according to a report in the Financial Times and written by us.

Luxury yachts, owned by some of the world’s wealthiest people, currently move between the Mediterranean and the cruising areas of the Seychelles, Mauritius and Maldives via the Suez canal passing through the pirate infested waters off the coast of Somali. One security advisor told us “Pirates have got better, faster boats and are able to operate at night up to 300 miles off the coast,” adding, “If they can pick off a containership doing 25 knots with a high freeboard they can certainly attack a shiny white superyacht that just sparkles in the sunlight offering a very rich looking target.”

Good Intelligence

“Pirates are getting very good intelligence on vessels and are learning about those heading to and from the Suez Canal. There is evidence to suggest that they are targeting some vessels and not touching others,” said Graeme Gibbon Brooks, Managing Director, Dryad Maritime Intelligence a company devoted to research into the nature, behaviour and challenges posed by pirates and those who traffic drugs and people by sea.

While no superyacht has to date been attacked, pirates have targeted lookalikes. For example the French passenger vessel Le Ponant was seized sailing without passengers from the Seychelles to the Mediterranean. Another yacht-like ship, the live aboard dive boat Indian Ocean Explorer, was attacked off the Seychelles shortly after dropping her passengers on Assumption Island.

Democratic US Senator Dianne Feinstein has called for US-flag shipping vessel operating in the Gulf of Aden, the Straits of Malacca, or in any other high piracy zone to have armed security teams sailing aboard.

US Lawyer Michael Moore who specialises in superyacht work agrees, “I believe in peace through superior firepower. If my clients are planning to travel through areas frequented by pirates, I recommend having crew trained and armed. The captain should be given the flexibility to commence firing as soon as he or she perceives a threat from an unidentified vessel, which approaches and refuses to turn back.” Not exactly a conventional point of view, but one says Moore, “That has worked with 100% success to date. All unidentified craft have wisely turned back when confronted by hostile fire.”

Pirate Protection Requires Brains not Brawn

Intelligence rather than gunfire is the preferred option of British superyacht crew sailing in pirate-infested waters off Somalia.

There are several reports of yachts having been threatened or approached by attackers but none boarded. Many believe the unarmed approach is a more prudent and ultimately better route to follow.

There are signs that some people are profiteering from piracy at sea. Custom and immigration services in countries around Somalia from Egypt to Oman are reportedly preventing protection personnel, going to join vessels about to transit the pirate infested waters, transporting safety and security equipment through their airports. Now the Djibouti Government have implemented a new procedure where anti piracy security teams are required to register with a company called Djibouti Maritime Security Services, a government appointed liaison service and need to have a special license. Fees are set at US$ 15,000 per month, US$ 80,000 for 6 months and US$ 150,000 for 1 year. Weapons can only be hired from the Djibouti Armed Forces after paying a rental charge.

The cynic in us sees ideas such as these as another money generating initiative by a government seeking to profiteer from the piratical trade.”

Categorised as Road & Rail

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