This bi-annual threat assessment has been written by EU NAVFOR and Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). It is intended to inform risk management decision making for shipping operators responsible for merchant vessels that are transiting through the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden (GoA), Gulf of Oman (GoO) and the Western Indian Ocean. The report also serves to inform the Contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) of the Piracy Threat Assessment by Counter Piracy Military Operations deployed in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.
The threat assessment takes into account information, knowledge and intelligence from the two multi-national naval operations; EU NAVFOR and CMF. It presents the common understanding of the current threat actors in the Red Sea, GoA, GoO and Western Indian Ocean, and offers the combined military perspective on assessed future threats and trends.
On the basis of the factors that are outlined in this document we assess that piracy networks are likely meeting their financial objectives by pursuing lower risk, lower reward activities such as the smuggling of people, narcotics, weapons or charcoal; the high risk, high investment, high reward model for piracy is currently unlikely to be deemed attractive or viable by the networks. The role of military counter piracy organisations, such as CMF and EU NAVFOR, and crucially the application of BMP and PAST have been pivotal in creating these conditions.
That said the region has seen a diverse range of reported incidents in 2017 and as such mariners must remain mindful that a range of potential threats persists. We assess that piracy attacks will likely remain sporadic, unsuccessful and at a low level. The risk of becoming involved in a local fishing dispute or an attack linked to the Yemen conflict remains a realistic possibility. We urge the shipping industry to continue to be proactive both in adhering to BMP and PAST, utilising the MSTC, and in their engagement with MSCHOA / UKMTO. Timely and accurate reporting from shipping is crucial to the military’s success both in terms of responding to any given incident appropriately and in developing our understanding of the range and nature of the threats within the area, which is pivotal to our future success.