UAE Transport, Former US High Speed Vessel Swift, Hit by Shore based ASCM

There have been numerous reports (and here) that the former US Navy High Speed Vessel Swift has been attacked and apparently destroyed by a Chinese designed but possibly Iranian built C-802 anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) while transiting the 25 mile wide Bab-el-Mandeb Strait at the southern end of the Red Sea.

Map of Bab-el-Mandeb.png

Map of the Bab-el-Mandeb by Archer90

The missile was launched by a rebel group in Yemen. This not the first report of their use of anti-ship cruise missiles. They have claimed to have hit ships of the Saudi led coalition before. Plus the American built Israeli Corvette Hanit was hit by a Hezbollah launched C-802 in 2006. If we ever get in a situation like MarketTime again, there is a good possibility that even insurgent groups might have ASCMs.

The C-802 is similar in size and capabilities to the US build Harpoon. There is at least one report that the former Swift deployed Mk36 SRBOC.

Thanks to Peter for bringing this to my attention. 


A photo of the vessel, severely damaged but still afloat here:

They are also saying the damage was done by multiple shoulder launched missile (presumably anti-tank guided missiles) rather than a single ASCM.

Piracy Update, July 6, 2011

This is coming relatively soon after the last update, but there have been several interesting developments:

As a result of a pirate attack, a 144,000 ton Very Large Crude Carrier has been set afire and abandoned in the Gulf of Aden, 20 miles south of Yemen. The crew of 26 was rescued by the cruiser USS Philippine Sea. This occurred in the area most heavily patrolled by counter piracy forces.

Britain like the Netherlands is considering allowing their merchant ships to arm themselves.

There is a prediction that the pirates will start using heavier weapons. This sort of escalation has been predicted in the past, we’ll see.

Information dissemination has provided a grim and thought provoking post on the future of Africa and Al-Qaeda that touches on piracy, Somalia, and Al Shabaab. It provides a lot of background for USCG efforts in Nigeria, Yemen, and Djibouti and African Partnership station in general.


The UN has informed Reuters there is a financial link between some pirate organizations and Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, Al Shabaab. Not that the terrorist group is engaged in piracy itself, but rather it seems to be “taxing” Somalia’s most profitable industry. This may be viewed as making it illegal to pay ransom. Comment here and here.