Last night another commercial vessel was attacked and boarded by pirates and we overheard the conversation between a coalition warship and the motor vessel in question. For obvious reasons I am not saying which attack it was but I was able to record the second half of the conversation between the coalition warship and another warship in the area, which we will release as a podcast in due course.
We had been monitoring VHF CH16 and the international task force channel for communication, 72. At around 8pm last night we heard the following conversation. Bear in mind it is normal protocol for warships to ask standard questions in order to gain an understanding of the type of vessel they are dealing with. The first part is from memory and the second is transcribed from the recording I took.
Skipper of commercial vessel: There are guns.
Warship: This is coalition warship. Please state the number of crew you have on board. Over.
Skipper: Please stand down. Please stop following and alter course.
Warship: This is coalition warship. Please state your course and speed. Over.
Skipper: I will not answer any more questions.
Warship: This is coalition warship. Please can you tell us if there are any injured on board. Over.
Skipper: No, I will not. I will not answer your questions.
Warship: This is coalition warship. Please state your next port of call.
Skipper: Please stop following us. I will not answer any more questions. Out.
Then there was a pause until the coalition warship contacted another warship who was close by. We could only hear one side of the conversation.
Warship: xxx warship this is coalition warship. My current position is xxx. My course is xxx and my current speed is xxx. Over.
Pause whilst other warship responds which we can’t hear.
Warship: Er yes sir request your current position, course and speed. Over.
Warship: Roger this is coalition warship. Copy your position, course and speed. I am currently three and half nautical miles astern of motor vessel X. I have been in contact with the motor vessel master, but he declined to answer several questions and we are currently in a trailing position. Over.
Warship: This is coalition warship. Suspect that motor vessel X has been pirated. Response has been very limited and we continue to attempt to hail and maintain trailing position. Over.
Warship: Do you intend to close our position and assist? Over.
Warship: This is coalition warship. Roger we will be standing by channel 1-6 and monitoring 7-2 for any updates you have to pass. Over.
Warship: This is coalition warship. Please can you confirm the number of injured. Over.
Warship: This is coalition warship. Please identify yourself. Over.
Warship: This is coalition warship. Negative. We do not have bridge to bridge visual with Motor Vessel X. Over.
Warship: This is coalition warship. That’s affirmative, sir. Over.
Warship: If you observe any suspicious or illegal activity or require assistance please contact the nearest coalition warship on channel 16. Out.
The last statement from the coalition warship is a standard statement we often hear in this area.
What to make of all this then? Well it was clear that the skipper of the motor vessel was under some kind of duress and must have been under instruction not to answer any questions by his captors. It has an impact on the immediate plans of the rally and our strategy will probably change. Whatever our decision we never underestimate the gravity of this situation but we ask all our friends and family not to worry. We have friends in high places 😉