Unreported attack on Iranian cargo ship

Iranian media reports indicate that the Iranian Navy averted an attack on an Iranian cargo ship as she was underway in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, 9 January. According to reports, the cargo ship was approached by suspected pirates on board eight boats. However, Iranian naval forces from the 28th flotilla were alerted to the incident and moved to the scene. The suspected pirates were compelled to move away. There were no reports of shots being fired.

The incident occurred a day after the Iranian Navy reportedly averted an attack on an Iranian tanker in the Gulf of Aden. However, it should be noted that the both incidents were reported in Iranian press accounts only, and were not reported by the official reporting bodies or the NATO Shipping Centre. Further information and verification is awaited. Furthermore, there are as ever a significant number of small craft, including fishing vessels operating both legitimately and illegitimately throughout the region. Due to the fact that fishermen may be armed, and may approach merchant shipping in an attempt to protect their fishing equipment, such activity, especially incidents involving large numbers of boats, may be misinterpreted as pirate activity.

Nevertheless, there remains a threat of piracy and hijacking throughout the region. A recent press release from the international naval counter piracy forces urged caution against complacency. The press release stated that despite the reduction of Somali pirate activity, the root causes of Somali piracy, which include extreme poverty and lack of employment opportunities in the coastal settlements, have not been eradicated. Masters transiting the region should ensure comprehensive counter piracy measures are in place at all times.