kalizma yacht involved in Yemen shootout

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Kalizma: New details emerge following shooting off Yemeni coast

28 April 2023 • Written by Katia Damborsky

Conflicting accounts have emerged about an incident involving the 50.2-metre superyacht Kalizma, which came under fire yesterday (28 April) at 2.28am in the Gulf of Aden, around 30 nautical miles from the coast of Yemen. 

Eyewitnesses on board the vessel have told BOAT International that the yacht was attacked by pirates operating under the guise of the Yemeni Coastguard. A security guard on board Kalizma was shot in the shoulder, and pictures shared with BOAT International indicate the yacht has sustained heavy damage to her guest accommodation and superstructure. 

However, this version of events has been challenged by officials who claim that the boats which approached Kalizma were in fact Yemeni Coastguard vessels. A statement posted on the Yemeni Coastguard described Kalizma as behaving "suspiciously" and claimed the Coastguard  "introduced themselves and tried to communicate with the yacht [...] but the yacht captain did not respond to the repeated calls".

According to the statement, Kalizma was the first party to fire and "Yemen Law enforcement vessels had to reply shooting". It went on: "Unfortunately, the shooting resulted in a death of a Yemeni soldier and the wounding of others, and there was some damage to the boats."

The statement further alleges that Kalizma issued a "false distress call" and demonstrated "a clear violation of international maritime law and the rules of innocent passage" by not flagging her flag and allegedly refusing to make contact with the Coastguard.

But the owner, captain and manager remain resolute that they were subject to an unprovoked attack by pirates. Manager Aashim Mongia said there was absolutely no case of "mistaken identity" and claims that an aircraft was able to identify multiple pirate skiffs operating under the guise of the Yemeni Coastguard in the vicinity. He claims there have been at least two other distress calls regarding piracy from merchant ships in the immediate area at the same time Kalizma was attacked.

Speaking to BOAT International, the owner of Kalizma, Shirish Saraf, said that the yacht had been en route to Egypt and was around 50 nautical miles from joining a convoy that would make the passage in tandem when the incident occurred. Saraf described the situation as "touch and go", and claimed that pirates pursued Kalizma between four and five hours.

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