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Cook Islands flagged yacht in shootout off Yemen coast

Saturday 29 April 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Crime, National


Cook Islands flagged yacht in shootout off Yemen coast
The Cook Islands flagged Kalimza yacht was once owned by the late Welsh actor Richard Burton. Photograph: Jonathon Eastland/Alamy/230428115

Maritime Cook Islands has been made aware that a Cook Islands-flagged Yacht was involved in an incident that led to the death of a Yemeni Coast Guard.

According to the Associated Press (AP), armed private guards aboard a famous yacht once owned by the late Welsh actor Richard Burton fired on approaching ships on Friday in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Yemen, in an intense gunfight.

AP reports that Ambrey, a maritime intelligence company, said in a brief that a Yemeni Coast Guard contingent had approached the Cook Islands-flagged yacht Kalizma, which hadn’t responded to radio calls.

According to the Coast Guard, “an armed security team ... onboard the yacht then opened fire on the approaching Yemenis and attempted to escape perceived pirates,” Ambrey said.

The Coast Guard “returned fire and followed the yacht for approximately an hour until communications with the yacht could be established and the misunderstanding between the parties resolved.”

Ambrey said one Yemeni Coast Guard member was killed.

The Cook Islands-flagged yacht once belonged to actor Richard Burton. It was on board the ship where he gave actress and his twice-wife Elizabeth Taylor a 69.42-carat, pear-shaped diamond now known as the Taylor-Burton Diamond.

Maritime Cook Islands issued a statement in response to queries from Cook Islands News.

“We received the ship security alert from the yacht following the attack. MCI has been in contact with the vessel managers to monitor the situation,” a spokesperson said.

“The yacht was carrying armed guards onboard and the flag was notified.”

Maritime Cook Islands is requesting that “any Cook Islands vessels transiting in high-risk areas follow the BMP on Piracy developed by the industry and circulated by International Maritime Organisation”.

“MCI is still investigating the attack and will be able to provide further information at a later stage once we know more,” the spokesperson said.