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Piracy is highly doubtful. Who, then, attacked LNG tanker GALACIA SPIRIT?

Nov. 4, 2016 at 06:04 by Mikhail Voytenko in Maritime Security

Some light on attack on LNG tanker GALACIA SPIRIT was thrown by Teekay on Nov 3:

In an initial statement last week, shipping group Teekay said its LNG tanker Galicia Spirit had "experienced a suspected piracy attack" but no one had managed to board it. In an update on Thursday, Teekay said it had now conducted an investigation with security experts. This indicated that "the skiff that engaged in an attack on the Galicia Spirit using small arms was also carrying a substantial amount of explosives.
While the intentions of the attackers and the use of the explosives is unknown, the investigation findings indicate that the explosives would have been sufficient to have caused significant damage to the vessel.
It appears, however, that when the skiff was approximately 20m (meters) from the vessel, the explosives detonated, destroying the skiff and ending the attack. No details have emerged of how many attackers there were, or what happened to them, but maritime sources said the information to date indicated this was probably not piracy.


LNG tanker GALACIA SPIRIT was attacked by a group of militants on a small boat, who fired an RPG at tanker, in the morning Oct 25, as she passed Perim Island, between the coast of Djibouti and Yemen. No injures reported, tanker understood to suffer small damages. Tanker is en route from Qatar to Egypt, as of morning Oct 27 she was under way in Red Sea.
Piracy attack was highly doubtful from the very beginning, before experts investigations, see https://www.fleetmon.com/maritime-news/2016/15515/was-there-second-attack-bab-el-mandeb-who-were-att/

There is quite a number of parties in and around Middle East, who may find terror attack in Gulf of Aden – Red Sea area as suiting their objectives, but Houthis definitely seems to be the least interested party. However poor logics may be found in Middle East chaos in general, there are still some logics in what numerous players do, and in their motivations. Houthis have absolutely nothing to gain from launching terror on Gulf of Aden – Red Sea waterways. What’s the use in attempts to hamper Qatar or Saudi hydrocarbons exports, if Houthis just can’t claim responsibility for terror attacks on waterways? If they do, they’ll find themselves on the top of a list of world’s most dangerous evils, together with ISIS. Houthis are fighting for their country, and whether it’s just or unjust, is irrelevant. What is relevant, is the fact, that Houthis will gain nothing from terrorism aimed at shipping. Instead, they’ll get retaliation from not only their present enemies, but from a number of other countries, whose economies are highly dependant on Suez shipping.
Who’s behind this, hopefully only one, mad attack? It will be a wild guess, of course, and mostly speculations, because there’s quite a number of parties, interested in disruption of hydrocarbons traffic. Not in choking it, but in disruption, in spreading around a feeling of instability, of chaos. Those parties, mostly oil-producing States, found themselves on the verge of bankruptcy with hydrocarbons price crashing down, and who’s to say, how far they may go, trying to change the trend, and save their economies.
I’ll bet on Russia, the country, whose economy is already in ruins, and there’s nothing regime can do about it. Russia is becoming more weak with each day, collapse is in the air, it’s the question of time and hydrocarbons price. $30 per barrel looks like a red line for Russian economy – if price froze around or below that line, it will be weeks, or moths at most, before Russian economy collapses, just like Soviet Union economy collapsed in 90-91. Kremlin is striving for anything, any positive change in oil and gas prices, if not raise then at least stability. $40-50 per barrel will give Kremlin some additional survival time, years probably, so anything, any action which may rise or stabilize the price, is highly wanted by regime.
Among all Middle East players, Russia is best suited for unleashing terror on region’s waterways. Let’s not forget, that Middle East terrorism, initially, was fathered by the Soviet Union. Russian military might is mostly a myth, but Spetsnaz and special ops are no myth, they’re real and present danger. It doesn’t mean that Russia will carry out terror attacks first-hand, Russia has more than enough capacities in the region to use dummies, whoever they may be.
Meanwhile, probably it's already high time to think about bolstering security measures on Gulf of Aden – Red Sea waterways, first of all tightening the security of gas and crude oil tankers, by either Navy escorts, or providing armed security teams on board, or both ways. If there’s any sense left in international maritime organizations and security institutions, both national and international, they’d better demand new regulations, which will make the process of deploying armed security on board, by shipowners, as smooth as possible, and most of all, make it unquestionably legal.

Voytenko Mikhail
November 4, 2016

Piracy is highly doubtful. Who, then, attacked LNG tanker GALACIA SPIRIT?

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