A Hong Kong-flagged sailboat is reported to have come under attack on Thursday off the coast of Yemen, though the circumstances of the incident remained unclear, officials said.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations group said the attack happened off Hodeidah, a contested port city that has been a flashpoint in Yemen’s years-long war.
Reporting by UKMTO and MICA Centre indicates that a vessel was attacked whilst in transit 33nm SSW Al Hudaydah. It is understood that the vessel was approached by unknown individuals in 3 skiffs and several attempts were made to board the vessel. The vessel is understood to have avoided boarding and departed the area.
Unverified reporting indicates the vessel is the Hong Kong-flagged sailing vessel LAKOTA. The vessel can be seen in the Port of Djibouti on the 15th of May 22 having registered an arrival time of 1305. The vessel then appears in Yemeni waters,
SE of Hannish at 0300 on the 19th of May. The vessel can be seen to transit towards the Yemi coast before proceeding NW. At a point north of Hanish, the vessel is understood to have come under attack at approximately 0730UTC by three skiffs.
Following the attack, the vessel is understood to have transited west into the Red Sea broadcasting a destination of the Panama Canal. A naval vessel is understood to be in support and the crew is safe.
Update 20 May 2022
It is understood that the vessel was approached by three skiffs. The individuals fired warning shots and were understood to have assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
It is understood that the vessel was boarded by one of the assailants who it is understood sought money from the vessel.
The assailant is believed to have jumped overboard on realizing that there was no money and that the vessel he was on had drifted from his comrades.
Whilst details regarding the specific nature of the incident remain unclear, it is unlikely that the vessel was targeted as a result of an established and persistent piracy threat. Despite this Dryad Global has advised all vessels to avoid, where possible, waters East of Hanish and al Zubair, as a result of the extended war risk emanating from the conflict in Yemen.
Incidents within the area have historically been recorded as suspicious approaches with a number of vessels detained by either the Yemeni coastguard, SLC forces, or in some instances Houthi rebels as was the case with the UAE flagged cargo vessel RWABEE in January 2022.
It is important to note that the situation remains unclear, with questions existing around the provenance of the vessel and its intentions in transiting such an area.
It remains a real possibility that the vessel was attacked as a result of an opportunistic attempt against a vulnerable vessel or was approached by Houthi forces known to be operating within the area.
Sailing Vessel LAKOTA is currently located at EAFR – Gulf of Aden at position 11° 36′ 05.9″ N, 043° 07′ 44.4″ E as reported by MarineTraffic Terrestrial Automatic Identification System on 2022-05-15 13:28 UTC (6 days, 3 hours ago)
The vessel departed from DJIBOUTI, DJ on 2022-05-18 at 10:16 LT (UTC +3) and is currently sailing at 4.5 knots in the West direction