A British-flagged chemical tanker in the Gulf of Aden came under attack yesterday by pirates but were repulsed, says the ship’s manager Stolt Tankers.
The Stolt Apal was approached at high speed by armed pirates in two speedboats some 75 nautical miles off Yemen’s coast. Although the tanker sustained damage, there were no injuries to those on board.
“After multiple warning shots were fired by the armed guard team aboard Stolt Apal, the skiffs opened fire on the ship. The armed guard team returned fire, disabling one skiff and ending the pursuit,” a company spokesman informed Reuters.
A statement from the ship’s owner Stolt-Nielsen to Sky News stated that several warning shots were fired by the armed guards on the Stolt Apal, followed by the skiffs opening fire on the ship. “The armed guard team returned fire, disabling one skiff and ending the pursuit,” it read.
An unnamed coalition warship is also believed to have responded to the attack in aid of the tanker.
The Gulf of Aden is one of the most important and busiest trade routes for oil in the world. Almost 20,000 ships pass through the Gulf each year, making their way to and from the Suez Canal.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) also confirmed that a vessel came under attack in the Gulf of Aden without providing further details but did issue a warning for transiting vessels to “exercise extreme caution”.
The attack constitutes the ninth reported incident in the Gulf of Aden this year, according to maritime security firm Dryad Global. According to Maritime Bulletin, attacks in the region are rare but occurring more frequently in recent years, yet most are mysterious as to date none have been confirmed as being down to piracy or terrorism.