Armed Guards Repulse Pirate Attack on Product Tanker

Recent attacks and approaches in the Gulf of Aden. The red cross at center-right is the location of the Stolt Apal incident (Dryad Global)

Published May 17, 2020 9:51 PM by The Maritime Executive

[Brief] On Sunday afternoon, guards aboard the tanker Stolt Apal successfully repulsed a pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden, according to operator Stolt Tankers. 

At about 1230 hours UTC, the Stolt Apal was approached by two speedboats at a position about 75 nm off the coast of Yemen. Her embarked security team fired warning shots at the skiffs and the suspected pirates then opened fire on the ship, Stolt Tankers told Reuters. The security team then returned fire and disabled one of the two skiffs. A warship from an anti-piracy response patrol responded to the scene and Stolt Apal resumed her commercial voyage. Her bridge suffered minor damage but no injuries were reported.

The British anti-piracy coordinating agency UKMTO cautioned all vessels in the area to "exercise extreme caution."

The Gulf of Aden is part of the Horn of Africa high risk zone for piracy, and the region has also seen maritime security incidents related to the ongoing Yemeni civil war. Attacks and suspicious approaches in the area are not uncommon, security consultants observed. 

"Whilst the nature of the attack remains unclear, this is the ninth reported incident within the Gulf of Aden within 2020," noted security consultancy Dryad Global. "This latest incident occurred 58 nm east of a previous suspicious approach where several skiffs were reported to have closed within one nm of a vessel transiting westbound."