Somali pirate gangs spent January building the capacity necessary to launch attacks on ships off the Horn of Africa, a report from Neptune P2P Group said.

The Dubai security provider detailed six incidents where fishing vessels from various flag states were either approached or hijacked, with some used as motherships in two attacks in the western Indian Ocean.

“According to local sources, at least five (including the two taken on 12 January) of the eight fishing vessels hijacked off the coast of Somalia in the last two months have been used to conduct piracy,” Neptune P2P said in a report published on Wednesday.

It said an unidentified fishing vessel was hijacked on 2 January, two Yemeni fishing vessels hijacked on 12 January and a Sri Lankan one on 29 January.

On 10 January and 27 January, fishing vessels were approached.

Pirates often use fishing vessels as motherships to extend the range of their operations, including in the Gulf of Guinea in 2021, where pirates used such a ship to launch at least four attacks on various ships over a weekend in February.

More recently, the UKMTO has warned two piracy groups are operating in the western Indian Ocean and using tactics including a mothership.

Some have warned shipping is at risk in the region, as global players and the United Nations have begun winding down the anti-piracy measures that helped eliminate Somalian piracy.

The apparent resurgence comes as governments and the industry deal with attacks from Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen, who have spent the last two and a half months attacking commercial vessels ostensibly to garner support for Palestine in its conflict with Israel.

Neptune P2P said the rerouting of ships south around the Cape of Good Hope has created more targets for Somalian pirates.

“Commercial ships now face a combination of threats in an increasingly unstable region, threats from Houthi attacks on one hand and now a resurgence of the threat of piracy,” it said.

“By acting with the best interests of their ships and crew in mind, ship operators have changed their trading routes and diverted their assets away from one threat source but unwittingly, may now be putting them at risk of a piracy attack.”

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