Boat that Attacked Tanker off Yemen Carried Explosives

Unknown assailants who opened fire on a gas tanker last week off the coast of Yemen were also carrying a “substantial amount of explosives”, the vessel’s owner said on Thursday, and a maritime source said it may have been an attempted suicide attack.

Security experts said the new details of the Oct. 25 incident would heighten concerns for shipping in the narrow Bab al-Mandab waterway at the entrance to the Red Sea, a major choke point in the world oil trade.

In an initial statement last week, shipping group Teekay (TK) said its LNG (liquefied natural gas) tanker Galicia Spirit had “experienced a suspected piracy attack” but no one had managed to board it.

In an update on Thursday, Teekay said it had now conducted an investigation with security experts. This indicated that “the skiff (small boat) that engaged in an attack on the Galicia Spirit using small arms was also carrying a substantial amount of explosives”.

It added: "While the intentions of the attackers and the use of the explosives is unknown, the investigation findings indicate that the explosives would have been sufficient to have caused significant damage to the vessel.

“It appears, however, that when the skiff was approximately 20m (metres) from the vessel, the explosives detonated, destroying the skiff and ending the attack.”

No details have emerged of how many attackers there were, or what happened to them, but maritime sources said the information to date indicated this was probably not piracy.

“If the circumstances are as described, it was an ambitious attempt carried out by people who didn’t expect to survive,” said one source with detailed knowledge of the area.

“An LNG vessel also has a double skin (hull), but if the explosives were enough to penetrate the main hull, then it is certainly possible that damage would have been done to the inner skin and gas could have escaped and ignited.”

Teekay said the vessel suffered minor damage with no injuries to the crew.

And three days later they made a try for a chem tanker (Melati Satu) in the same place. I was trying to see if she was meant to be blown up, too, but as far as I could see it was only RPG and getting a little bit shot up.

We’ve become numb to highjackers who are in business to reap ransoms but if the reports from the Galicia Spirit are factual, we are now facing an even more dangerous threat on the high seas.
Armed contractors riding along and private escorts as well as warships from several nations are all being used to ward off pirates but their success has been limited. The warships can’t be everywhere all the time and with bad guys potentially blowing up LNG tankers instead of ‘just’ seeking ransoms, the ante has been raised.
Now is the time to adopt a more aggressive posture to discourage these attacks before they succeed. We already have the weapon systems we need to pulverize rapidly approaching small boats if they are deemed a threat. We could deploy these systems aboard commercial ships but I doubt that this would be practical or politically acceptable at this time.
We better come up with some kind of plan soon though because this situation will continue to evolve. How do we prevent a bunch of zealots from blowing up tankers and butcher civilian mariners in the name of their twisted religion, or for that matter, any other reason?

No no no, someone could get hurt. You do it like this: