Spike in Maritime Incidents Reported in Red Sea and Northern Indian Ocean

Global maritime hotspots around the Red Sea, northern Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, and East Africa experienced six reported incidents at sea during the last week of April.

According to a global MS Risk/Price Forbes maritime security report, other areas such as the Gulf of Guinea and East and South-East Asian waters reported no incidents for the period of April 25-30.

The report cautioned that vessels sailing in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and East Africa remain at high risk of piracy, with international naval task forces operational in these regions. Vessels also face risks of damage due to ongoing conflicts.

An advisory for the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb Strait emphasized, “the waters of the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somalia, Arabian Sea, and Indian Ocean remain a high-risk area and heightened vigilance is recommended.” It added that the risk to commercial vessels transiting the Red Sea remains high.

“Tensions in the region remain heightened and further attacks on merchant shipping in the region are highly likely to occur in the coming weeks,” the advisory warned.

This follows a United States Maritime Administration warning in March recommending vessels turn off their automatic identification system (AIS) transponders to reduce the risk of being targeted, particularly where the threat from Houthi forces is greatest.

The advisory also highlighted the continued threat of Iran attempting to illegally board and seize commercial vessels, referencing several incidents from the previous year.

Potential attacks could include deliberate sinkings, damage to vessels, or seizures. Other risks include hazards to safe navigation, helicopter and aerial threats, drone attacks, and various forms of boarding and capture by state and non-state actors.

Defenceweb reports that attacks on shipping by Houthi rebels in Yemen continue weekly, while Somali pirates are exploiting the situation around the Horn of Africa to launch hijacking attempts. The European Union Naval Force indicates the possible operation of two or more pirate groups off the Somalia coastline, including the semi-autonomous Puntland region.

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