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EU Warns of Heightened Somali Piracy Threat to Shipping

Commercial vessels face increased threats from Somali pirates off the coast of the East African country, the European Union’s Naval Force in the region said in an update.

“Ships sailing off the Somalian coasts, in the Somali basin are urged to maintain a heightened state of vigilance in light of the recent escalation in piracy threats,” the EU naval force said, noting a recent upsurge in reported incidents.   

The end of the monsoon period is expected to further facilitate piracy activities in the region, said the EU Naval force’s maritime security center for the Horn of Africa region.  

The Naval force says “It is strongly recommended that all vessels adhere to the Best Management Practices Version 5 (BMP5), paying a special attention to the drill of security measures before sailing off Somali coasts.”

Since the end of November 2023, three merchant vessels have been assaulted, two of which are still under pirate control—M/V Rouen and M/V Abdullah. Additionally, several vessels have reported suspicious approaches.

At least four pirate action groups (PAGs) could be sailing off the Somali coast, the EU said.

Moreover, the Rouen commercial bulk carrier, hijacked in December 2023, has not remained stationary but instead moved along the Somali coast. Now that the vessel is sailing away from the coast, “the possibility that it could be used as a mother ship for a future assault cannot be ruled out,” the EU Naval force said.

The increased attacks by Somali pirates on commercial ships coincided with intensified attacks on vessels from the Houthis in Yemen. Somalia and Yemen are divided by the Gulf of Aden, the gulf that ships use to enter or exit the Red Sea/Suez Canal route.  

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Due to the Houthi attacks, many ship owners and operators have decided to re-route their vessels away from the Red Sea and use instead the longer Europe-Asia route via the Cape of Good Hope in Africa. But the re-routing has been a boon to pirates around Africa, international agencies warn.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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