I was Officer of the Watch on the mid-night to 0400 watch. My vessel was on a course 040°, speed 19.5 knots, off the Anamabas Archipeligo. There were a few commercial vessels and fishing vessel in the area. At about 0100 hours I also observed two small unidentified targets appear on our radar screens to the NNW at 12 miles. I also saw thick low clouds forming and developing in that direction. The two targets became lost in the rain clutter.
At 0200hrs we received a distress call alert from a tanker in the vicinity advising that they had been boarded by pirates. About thirty minutes later, there was a call on VHF Ch 16 from the tanker advising that the pirates had departed with stolen property.
Lessons learned: Thick low clouds and rain may provide a hiding place for pirate craft. Keep a careful radar watch on such areas, adjusting range and rain clutter accordingly.
The Oil Companies International Marine Forum, with the support of other industry organisations, has published “PIRACY – The East Africa / Somalia Situation – Practical Measures to Avoid, Deter or Delay Piracy Attacks.” This can be accessed via their website www.ocimf.org .
Whilst it specifically refers to the East Africa situation, it contains advice which may be applicable in other areas and to all types of vessel.