At around 6 p.m. Saturday, Silver Spirit competed its transit of the Gulf of Aden, a region notorious for pirates who attack and hijack ships, with incidents recently escalating.
The International Maritime Organization reported in February that pirates were holding 685 crew and 30 ships for ransom along the Somali Coast. Attacks are becoming more frequent and more violent. Shortly after the IMO issued its report, four Americans were killed aboard their yacht by Somali pirates when military tried to intervene.
As we began our transit of the high-risk area, an Italian cargo liner was captured and crew held hostage, and a South Korean vessel narrowly escaped an attack, according to the Somalia Report. So to say that our transit was uneventful would not be telling the whole story.
There is a serious threat in the region, but how risky is the transit for cruise ships crossing the Gulf of Aden and outlying regions in the high-risk zone?
I’ll answer that question and more about pirates this week on the Avid Cruiser blog. Stay tuned as we make our way up the Red Sea toward Safaga, Egypt, our first port of call since leaving Muscat, Oman.
Geographic and historic background: The Gulf of Aden is located in the Arabian Sea between Yemen, on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. In the northwest, it connects with the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, which is about 20 miles wide. Silver Spirit passed through this strait yesterday.
The waterway is part of the important Suez canal shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Sea in the Indian Ocean with 21,000 ships crossing the gulf annually. The gulf is known by the nickname “Pirate Alley.” The Gulf of Aden plays an important role in the world economy, particularly for transporting petroleum and food.