Pirates Repelled from Stena Bulk Vessel West of Yemen

Stena Imperial crew
Stena Imperial crew

Published Nov 6, 2018 5:55 PM by The Maritime Executive

The crew of the Stena Imperial successfully thwarted a pirate attack on November 3 whilst northbound through the Red Sea west of Yemen.

The tanker was on her way from the Far East to Rotterdam when two suspicious skiffs approached from the port side at a distance of 1.5 nautical miles. The alarm was raised and the Master and the on board security team mustered on the bridge. Hand flares were fired towards the skiffs as warning shots as they were continuously approaching towards the vessel. 

The Master broadcast a security message about the attempted attack and also contacted a close by warship. Both skiffs ceased approach after flares were fired from the vessel and passed by the stern. One of the skiffs which passed astern again tried to approach the vessel, and once again hand flares were fired. The skiff then slowed down and moved towards another vessel.

The threat of piracy off Somalia and Yemen increased last year after the Aris 13 hijacking in March. However, Erik Hånell, CEO Stena Bulk, says that on the whole the pirate situation in the Gulf of Aden has calmed down. “There have not been any hijackings for a long time. But when we sail off the coast of Yemen, we choose to use guards due to the lawless state prevailing in the country at the moment. This has created the same kind of desperation in the population as we saw in Somalia a number of years ago. But we are monitoring the situation closely via our security department, which also keeps an eye on the situation in general on the global level. For us, it is extremely important to take the measures that are required so that the crew feel safe and that we at the same time follow the local regulations.”

Stena Bulk chiefly employs professional security firms, and the team comprises of well-educated former soldiers. Normally there are three to four people in each team on board the ships passing through the high risk areas of Yemen and Nigeria. The team is not allowed to use its weapons unless the captain has approved. The guards always follow the captain’s orders, but in situations like this they of course provide their professional advice, on which the captain then bases his decisions, said Hånell.

“The crew onboard the Stena Imperial acted in a very professional manner during the incident and worked closely with the security team to resolve the situation as safe as possible. We put a very high value on our crew and always make sure that they are provided the proper training to be able to handle all sorts of situations in a calm and professional way. A well trained crew working together with a security company when transiting these areas also makes us as owners feel secure about their safety onboard,” he said.