Superyacht fires shots off the coast of Yemen

Security guards on the 50-meter superyacht Kalizma and Yemeni Coast Guard boats have exchanged gunfire, resulting in one Yemeni Coast Guard individual being killed and approximately 200 rounds of ammunition being exchanged.

However, there are conflicting reports as to who pulled the trigger first and who was shooting at who.

According to the Associated Press, the Yemeni Coast Guard authorities claimed to have approached the Cook Islands-flagged yacht and attempted to make contact with its captain repeatedly, without receiving a reply, and that the Kalizma was acting in a “very suspicious way” near the coast. As the Yemeni Coast Guard continued its approach to the superyacht, they came under a hail of bullets and returned fire to defend themselves.

The maritime intelligence company involved stated: “An armed security team… onboard the yacht then opened fire on the approaching Yemenis and attempted to escape perceived pirates.” Then, the Coast Guard “returned fire and followed the yacht for approximately an hour until communications with the yacht could be established and the misunderstanding between the parties resolved.”

However – Boat International has been in direct contact with the owner, captain, and manager onboard the Kalizma, who claim they were attacked by pirates who approached them under the guise of being the Yemeni Coast Guard. There was no case of mistaken identity, according to Manager Aashim Mongia, who explained an aircraft identified, “multiple pirate skiffs operating under the guise of the Yemeni Coastguard in the vicinity” and that there were, “at least two other distress calls regarding piracy from merchant ships in the immediate area at the same time Kalizma was attacked.”

The shootout left one of Kalizma’s three private security guards with a bullet wound in the shoulder and the vessel itself has received major damage by bullet holes from those attacking the superyacht.

Earlier that day, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations did issue a warning that three boats, each carrying three or four people, had fired on a vessel in the Gulf of Aden.

However – The organization, which works under the British Royal Navy to secure global maritime routes, eventually reduced the shooting from an attack to an incident and stated that it was “confirmed by authorities as a government agency event.”

The investigation is ongoing but serves as a poignant reminder, of not only the dangers of piracy, or perceived piracy, but also of lack of communication in critical situations. Despite the encouraging statistics, the latest IMB report called for continued, robust and coordinated regional and international naval presence to act as a deterrent to prevent and respond to piracy.

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