Armed pirates attacked a British-flagged chemical tanker in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday, but were repelled, said ship manager Stolt Tankers.
Hackers approached the Stolt Apal on two speedboats some 75 nautical miles (139 km) off Yemen, he said, on one of the most important trade routes for oil from from the Middle East to Europe.
“After several warning shots were fired by the armed guard team on board the Stolt Apal, the skiffs opened fire on the ship. The armed guard team retaliated, disabling a skiff and ending the chase, “a company spokesperson told Reuters in an email comment.
“A coalition warship [also] replied and Stolt Apal resumed his journey, “said the spokesman.
He did not specify which coalition it was, but maritime security sources said the ship was crossing a transit corridor patrolled by international naval forces due to the high risk of attack.
The spokesman said the ship’s deck had been slightly damaged by bullets, but that there were no injuries. No cargo on the ship was damaged.
British officials were not immediately available for comment.
Stolt Tankers is a subsidiary of Stolt-Nielsen, a company listed in Norway.
Merchant ships have been attacked in recent years in the Gulf of Aden and the Bab al-Mandab waterway by armed gangs as well as groups such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia has in the past accused the Yemeni Houthi movement, aligned with Iran, which it has been fighting for five years, of having attempted to attack ships off the coast of Yemen with unmanned boats loaded with explosives.
Maritime security company Dryad Global said it was the ninth reported incident in the Gulf of Aden this year.
The United Kingdom’s Naval Maritime Commercial Operations Authority said in a warning on its website that it advised ships in the region “to exercise extreme caution”.