I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!
Transit of the Gulf of Aden en route to the Red Sea
April 15, 2017
North 12 degrees 03.671', East 044 Degrees 40.752' Heading 194 degrees at 18 knots. We were truly and fully blacked out starting at dusk last night. The pool deck was closed and all outside spaces were haram (forbidden) to passengers. We entered the IRTC (internationally recognized transit corridor) at our proscribed time traveling at 11 knots and then sped up to full speed at 18 knots for the duration of the transit which is still in progress. It is unknown at the time if we will black out again tonight but we pass the narrows into the Red Sea by Djibouti at six this evening. The Captain held a question hour yesterday and explained our transit. As he showed us maps and our assigned time to pass the most danger prone area a question was asked about how dangerous "it really is". The Captain said "Well, there is a ship under attack off our starboard side right at this moment". It was a merchant ship just out of the corridor closer to Yemen and a Japanese war ship is under way to help. He said there is a developing situation ahead by a port city of Yemen (Jizan) in the Red Sea that is now becoming unstable due to their war and he is keeping an eye on it. Internet came back today at 11 am. It was shut off during our transit less for safety than a past problem of passengers taking a video of a small boat and sending home saying we are under attack which then prompts all sorts of frantic calls to headquarters in Italy!
Most pirate attacks occur on merchant ships because they only have ten to twenty personnel and they are easier to manage than the six hundred total crew and passengers on our ship. Have their been attacks in the past on cruise ships?
2005, Seabourn Spirit was about 100 miles off the coast of Somalia when pirates fired AK-47 guns and rocket-propelled grenades at the ship but failed to take over.
2008 the Le Ponant, a French luxury sailing vessel was hijacked successfully but only had crew aboard at the time and they were ultimately rescued and the ship recovered later after a ransom was paid.
2008 Oceania's Nautica thwarted an attempt attack by pirates while sailing through the Gulf of Aden.
2009 MSC Melody following a late-night outdoor concert, several passengers spotted a skiff heading toward the ship and notified crew members. Cruisers then began hurling deck chairs overboard to keep the pirates from climbing the side of the vessel.
2012 Azamara Journey was attacked and used unspecified tactics to evade the pirates perhaps using flares guns and other measures
(Information above from cruisecritic.com)
Map of the High Risk area and the IRTC but a little hard to see taken with my ipad and that is the Captains shoe. Could not get the danger spot map to download but what is says is " All westbound Transit vessels are grouped together when passing through what EU NAVFOR (EU Naval Forces) believe to be the most vulnerable phase of the transit which allows naval forces to offer protection for all transit vessels during this time. It then lists all the assigned vessels, what they are and what their cruising speed will be through the area.
Other than the excitement of our transit and all outside areas being closed and internet turned off overnight it is an otherwise normal day at sea. Two more days at sea after today and then Safaga, Egypt where we have the longest bus trip yet of 13 hours to see Luxor and the Valley of the Kings.