|Gulf of Aden|
Gulf of Aden
|Average depth||500 m (1,600 ft)|
|Max. depth||2,700 m (8,900 ft)|
The Gulf of Aden (Arabic: خليج عدن Ḫalīǧ ʻAdan, Somali: Gacanka Cadmeed) is a gulf located in the Arabian Sea between Yemen, on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. In the northwest, it connects with the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, which is about 20 miles wide. It shares its name with the port city of Aden in Yemen, which forms the northern shore of the gulf. Historically the Gulf of Aden was known as "The Gulf of Berbera", named after the ancient Somali port city of Berbera on the south-side of the gulf. However as the city of Aden grew during the colonial era, the name of "Gulf of Aden" was popularised.
The waterway is part of the important Suez canal shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Sea in the Indian Ocean with 21,000 ships crossing the gulf annually. The gulf is known by the nickname "Pirate Alley" due to the large amount of pirate activity in the area.
- On the East. The meridian of Cape Guardafui (Ras Asir, 51°16'E).
The temperature of the Gulf of Aden varies between 15 °C (59 °F) and 28 °C (82 °F), depending on the season and the appearance of monsoons. The salinity of the gulf at 10 metres (33 ft) depth varies from 35.3 ‰ along the eastern Somali coast to as high as 37.3 ‰ in the gulf's center, while the oxygen content in the Gulf of Aden at the same depth is typically between 4.0 and 5.0 mg/L.
Commerce and trade 
The Gulf of Aden is a vital waterway for shipping, especially for Persian Gulf oil, making it an integral waterway in the world economy. Approximately 11 percent of the world's seaborne petroleum passes through the Gulf of Aden on its way to the Suez Canal or to regional refineries. The main ports along the gulf are Aden in Yemen, Djibouti City in Djibouti, and Zeila, Berbera, and Bosaso in Somalia.
In earlier history, the city of Crater, located just south of the modern city of Aden, was an important port in regional trade. Crater was the principal harbor of the pre-Islamic kingdom of Awsan, and after its annexation by the kingdom of Saba at the end of the 5th century, played a significant role in connecting Africa with Arabia.
India receives USD 50 billion in imports and sends USD 60 billion in exports through this area annually. Because of this and for the sake of protecting the trade of other countries, India keeps a warship escort in this area.
A geologically young body of water, the Gulf of Aden has a unique biodiversity that contains many varieties of fish, coral, seabirds and invertebrates. This rich ecological diversity has benefited from a relative lack of pollution during the history of human habitation around the gulf. However, environmental groups fear that the lack of a coordinated effort to control pollution may jeopardize the gulf's ecosphere.
The Gulf of Aden is an area known for acts of piracy, making its waters dangerous for water transport. The main cause of piracy in the gulf is the lack of any viable government in Somalia. The International Maritime Bureau reported over two dozen actual and attempted attacks in 2007 in the gulf off the coast of Somalia.
On 21 August 2008, a dry cargo ship going from China to the Netherlands with 40,000 tons of iron ore, a crew of 29 and an Iranian flag was hijacked in international waters in the gulf. As a result of talks the ship and its crew were released on October 10.
On 15 September 2008, the Japanese chemical tanker Stolt Valor was seized by pirates in the gulf off Somalia. The crew of 22 consisted of 18 Indians, two Filipinos, one Bangladeshi and one Russian. This vessel was later released on 16 November 2008 after 62 days in captivity, allegedly after a ransom of US$2.5 million was paid to the pirates.
On 4 October 2008, pirates attacked an arms ship. Four attempts were foiled by counter-piracy maneuvering, and there were no captives or injuries reported in these encounters with Gulf pirates.
On 11 November 2008, Jag Arnav a 38,265-tonne bulk carrier, owned by Mumbai-based Great Eastern Shipping Company was attacked by pirates. The ship sent an SOS call which was picked up by an Indian Navy warship INS Tabar, patrolling the region. An armed helicopter with marine commandos was launched from the INSTabar to intervene and prevent the pirates from boarding and hijacking the merchant vessel. The helicopter attacked the pirates by firing on them, forcing them to abort the hijack attempt and escape from the area.
The INS Tabar claimed to have destroyed a pirate “mother ship” in the evening of 18 November 2008; the nature of the ship has since been disputed by the ship's owner. The ship was the Ekawat Nava 5, a deep-sea trawler whose crew was being held hostage below-deck by pirates at the time of the encounter.
In December 2008, pirates attempted to hijack a US-based luxury cruising vessel, Nautica, but the vessel sped to safety. Yet another attempt by pirates was made on December 13 to hijack a cargo vessel flying an Ethiopian flag. After receiving the May Day call, an Indian Navy ship INS Mysore came to its rescue and captured 23 pirates, including those of Somali and Yemeni origin.
On 3 December 2008, MS Athena was attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. There were reported to be 29 pirate boats surrounding the ship at one stage until a US Navy P3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft circled above which led to some of the pirates to flee. The crew prevented the pirates from boarding by firing high pressure water cannons at them. No one was injured and the ship escaped without damage and continued on her voyage to Australia.
The United States Navy's Combined Task Force 151 caught the first pirate in 50 years in the Gulf of Aden on Feb. 11, 2009. 16 Somalis were captured in two separate incidents. The actions by the United States Navy were authorized by the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff via a Counter Piracy Execute Order that authorized the task force to capture pirates in the Horn of Africa region.
Bordering countries 
Towns and cities 
Towns and cities on the Gulf of Aden coast
See also 
- Erythraean Sea, ancient name of the gulf
- Maritime Security Patrol Area
- International fleet of vessels in the Gulf of Aden
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