On April 28 at about 2:28 a.m., 50.2-meter M/Y Kalizma came under fire in the Gulf of Aden, approximately 30 nautical miles from the coast of Yemen. While there are conflicting reports on what happened in the incident, the yacht sustained damage to the guest area and superstructure, and it resulted in the death of a Yemeni soldier and wounding of others.
Witnesses on board the yacht told BOAT International that the vessel was attacked by pirates disguised to be the Yemeni Coast Guard. The manager said there was no case of “mistaken identity” and claims an aircraft identified multiple pirate skiffs operating under the guise of the Yemeni Coast Guard in the vicinity and there had been at least two other distress calls regarding piracy in the immediate area at the same time the yacht was attacked.
But a statement released by the Yemeni Coast Guard says that the boats that approached Kalizma were coast guard vessels. The yacht was behaving “suspiciously” as it was sailing along the coast (at only 4.5 nautical miles from the coast at certain points) and into Yemeni territorial waters while not flying a flag. The Coast Guard “introduced themselves and tried to communicate with the yacht via the VHF radio” and “the yacht captain did not respond to the repeated calls.”
Then the Coast Guard approached the yacht to try to get the crew’s attention to respond to the VHF calls and stop, but Kalizma sped up and started firing, so the law enforcement boats retaliated. The statement says, “The Yemeni government reserves its rights regarding what resulted from the incident, as the yacht entered the territorial waters of Yemen and sailing without showing the flag of the country of the yacht, as well as refusing to respond to the law enforcement assets and stop — a clear violation of international maritime law and the rules of innocent passage.”
Kalizma’s owner shared with BOAT International that the yacht had been on her way to Egypt and about 50 nautical miles from joining a convoy that would make the passage in tandem when the incident occurred. He described the situation as “touch and go,” claiming the pirates pursued the yacht for four to five hours.
The Yemeni Coast Guard were unable to chase and stop the yacht, and she sailed into international waters and issued a distress call, which the statement says contained “false information.”