Iran Reports Second Successful Defense of Tankers from Somali Pirates
Iranian naval forces are reporting for the second time in less than a month that they have successfully prevented a suspected pirate attack on one of Iran’s oil tankers in the region of the Gulf of Aden. Monday morning, Iranian state TV announced the successful defense of the tanker that they said was sailing in the region near Yemen before entering the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.
Four boats carrying between four and six pirates approached the unidentified Iranian tanker while the vessel was underway in the region. The pirates reportedly were armed, which is consistent with international agencies that warn Somali pirates tend to be well-armed with automatic weapons and RPGs.
“The escort team of the Iranian Army’s Navy stationed on the oil tanker clashed with pirates,” Iran’s state news agencies reported. They believed the suspicious boats were approaching the tanker intending to hijack the vessel when the naval escort intervened. Iran reportedly fired warning shots to scare off the pirates.
Iranian officials said that their navy has increased its presence in the region to secure naval routes and protect merchant vessels and oil tankers. They said they will continue the patrols in the region which began in November 2008.
The naval activities are continuing in support of Iran’s efforts to increase the number of tankers it is sending to Lebanon. Officials said they are seeking to protect the ships which are working to reduce the ongoing fuel crisis in Lebanon.
Two weeks ago, Iran reported that small boats had also approached two of its oil tankers in the Gulf of Aden. Again, an Iranian destroyer stationed in the region engaged the five pirate boats before they were able to reach the two tankers.
The reports of the recent attacks come as the ICC International Maritime Bureau said in its nine-month update that they had been no recent incidents in the overall region and only one reported for the whole of 2021. IMB said that while the opportunity for incidents had been reduced, that Somali pirates continue to possess the capability and capacity to carry out attacks in the region. They noted that international navies patrolling the region continue to coordinate with merchant vessels to identify and apprehend pirate groups. They encouraged against complacency when operating in the region.