Attack on gas tanker off coast of Yemen

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IN Situ portrait of Captain Northwood RNFollowing reports that a gas tanker was attacked off the coast of Yemen close to the Bab-al-Mandab strait by as yet unknown assailants, Gerry Northwood (pictured), COO of maritime risk management company MAST and former Royal Navy counter piracy commander, said it was still unclear whether it was a pirate attack or an act of terrorism.

It is the first attack on a commercial vessel since early summer and follows a recent missile attack on a US navy ship in the area. The Bab-al-Mandad strait connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and so is a vitally important shipping route.

Mr Northwood said: “It is unclear at this stage whether this was a pirate attack or an act of terrorism, but we understand that the ship came under fire from both small arms and an RPG. We believe that there was no armed security team onboard the vessel and whilst in this instance the crew was able to escape the situation unharmed, it reiterates the importance of vessels being in a position to defend themselves should they come under attack.

“The Bab-el-Mandab connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and is a vital shipping route from Asia into Europe. We can ill afford for it to become unsafe for commercial shipping to pass through but it is clear that criminal maritime activity is increasing in the area. Vessels need to ensure they are adequately protected against any opportunistic attacks and remain vigilant.”