Bulgaria’s largest shipping company, Navigation Maritime Bulgare (NAVIBULGAR) issued a written statement late yesterday confirming the earlier reports of an ongoing incident aboard one of its vessels sailing in the Arabian Sea. Details on the situation remain sketchy and the whereabouts of the vessel are unknown as well as if it has been intercepted by any of the naval forces in the region.
The company writes that its vessel the Ruen (42,300 dwt) registered in Malta is “the subject of a security incident 380 nautical miles east of the island of Socotra, Yemen.” They reported they are coordinating with the international authorities after losing contact with the vessel and that their priority is the safety of the 18 crewmembers onboard. Media reports from Bulgaria indicate that the crew are Bulgarian and Myanmar citizens.
Earlier, United Kingdom Trade Organization (UKMTO) reported that it was investigating an incident in the Arabian Sea south of Yemen and east of Somalia. In a later update, they revised the alert to say a boarding was underway reporting an overheard VHF transmission indicating that the vessel had been boarded approximately 700 nautical miles east of Bossaso, Somalia.
Built at Hongqiang Shipyard and delivered in 2016, the AIS track for the 607-foot (185-meter) vessel shows that it had departed South Korea and made a stop in Singapore on December 4. She is reporting a destination of Gemlik, Turkey.
UK security consultants Ambrey issued an alert reporting that a vessel had been detected moving erratically in the area. Earlier they advised that an Iranian-owned fishing vessel had been detected going dark, turning off its AIS transmission, in the Arabian Sea.
Nearly two weeks ago, there were reports that a fishing vessel had been hijacked off the coast of Somalia with the pirates demanding a ransom. Local media reports said the pirates were threatening to use the vessel as a mother ship for subsequent attacks, but EUNAVFOR later reported having tracked that vessel and handing it over to the authorities in Somalia. The last report was that Somalia arrested the pirates.
U.S. officials blamed Somali pirates, not Yemen for the November 27 attack and boarding of the tanker Central Park. Confronted by the task force, the five armed intruders debarked the Central Park and attempted to flee in a small boat. A team from the USS Mason gave chase and fired warning shots at the intruders as they attempted to flee. They did not return the fire and eventually surrendered to the U.S. team.