According to the UKMTO and the MICA Centre, a vessel was targeted while in transit 33 nautical miles southwest of Al Hudaydah, Yemen. The full scope of the incident is still unclear. However, while analyzing the attack, Analysts from Dryad Global identified the vessel as a well-known racing trimaran named Lakota. The boat was a 60-foot, 12-time record-breaker, with skipper Steve Fossett as its captain between 1993 and 2000.
After tracking the ship to the Port of Djibouti as recently as last weekend, reports today surfaced that the vessel was around Yemini waters, leaving many to wonder how and why the ship ended up where it did.
Dryad believes the AIS signal was off, perhaps to avoid lurking pirates or other hostile forces in the area. However, it remains unclear why the vessel could have been close to Yemen. Aside from a currently fragile cease-fire, the region remains heavily disputed with other reports of approaches.
The EU monitoring the area reports that three ships carrying militants in civilian clothes chased the vessel and were attempting to board the trimaran. The spokesperson for the EU went on to say the three ships fired at the Lakota. They approximated that twenty warning shots were fired, telling the people in the boats made sure to feature their assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
A few reports also claimed that one of the militants made it aboard the vessel, but once he realized he had become separated from the others, he either removed himself from the ship or got chased away.
According to EU authorities, the Lakota seemed to get away unscathed following the aggressive advances. Later, a European Union naval force, led by the Italian frigate Carlo Bergamini, arrived at the Lakota. The crew was declared safe by the EU force.
Dryad Global addressed the conflict by saying, “Whilst details regarding the specific nature of the incident remain unclear, it is unlikely that the vessel was targeted as a result of an established and persistent piracy threat.” They went on to warn that vessels should be avoiding the area due to the extended war risk emanating from the conflict in Yemen. “Incidents within the area have historically been recorded as suspicious approaches with many vessels detained by either Yemeni coastguard, SLC forces, or Houthi rebels. It is important to note that the situation remains unclear, with questions existing around the provenance of the vessel and its intentions in transiting such an area. It remains a real possibility that the vessel was attacked as a result of an opportunistic attempt against a vulnerable vessel or was approached by Houthi forces known to be operating within the area.”