Weekly Maritime Security Report 03 October 2017
Tanzania: Armed robbers steal cargo from vessel at Dar es Salaam anchorage
Five armed robbers boarded a merchant vessel at Dar es Salaam anchorage at 0200 hrs local time, tied up a crew member and stole various items of cargo and a VHF radio before escaping. The crew and vessel were reported safe.
Robberies are infrequently reported at Tanzanian anchorages, although many incidents are likely to go unreported as petty crime is prevalent across the region. The incident underscores the need for vigilance while at anchor off Tanzania as robbers seek to take advantage of low visibility at night. Dar es Salaam port is ISPS compliant and implements restrictions on entry and exit out of the facility, and also has two patrol boats.
Yemen: Gunmen attack merchant vessel off Nishtun
A merchant vessel reported that it came under attack at 1336 hrs local time 10 nm off Nishtun in the Gulf of Aden. The report confirmed shots were fired during the incident, however both the vessel and crew were reported safe.
Suspicious approaches and exchanges of fire between security teams and suspected pirates are common in the Gulf of Aden. However, such attacks typically occur further away from shore and closer towards the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC), with the latest incident highlighting the evolving security situation for vessels in the region.
Nigeria: Gunmen attack merchant vessel off coast of Bonny Island
An unspecified number of gunmen on a speed boat approached a merchant vessel at 1915 hrs local time off the coast of Bonny Island. Armed security personnel on board the merchant vessel fired warning shots. The speed boat was able to escape. Both vessel and crew were reported safe after the incident.
Nigeria: Gunmen attack merchant vessel off coast of Bonny Island
Gunmen abducted three crew members and stole personal belongings after boarding a Panama-flagged tanker 34 nm southeast of Brass.
Niger Delta-based pirates have continued to favour kidnap for ransom attacks targeting a variety of commercial vessels since January 2016, largely due to a crackdown on oil theft and low oil prices making the dangerous and complex process less profitable. Pirate groups operate across a large area off the Nigerian coastline, with some attacks occurring up to 150 nm out at sea, making a significant area of the Gulf of Guinea hazardous for shippers.
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Bangladesh: Boat carrying Rohingya capsizes off Cox's Bazaar, leaving 60 missing
At least 60 Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar are presumed dead after their boat capsized off Bangladesh's Cox's Bazaar as they were fleeing a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar Army in Rakhine State. The refugees drowned amid heavy rains and turbulent seas late on 28 September, according to a Bangladeshi border guard chief at Teknaf town, where 1,000 Rohingya had landed on small boats within two days. Some 500,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh's Cox's Bazaar since 25 August, and there are believed to be thousands stranded in the Naf river between the countries due to efforts by Bangladeshi border guards to stop the inflows.
Cameroon: Authorities impose travel ban, curfew in Anglophone southwest
Local authorities announced the suspension of transportation, a ban on travel between municipalities and an overnight curfew between 2200 hrs and 0500 hrs local time. The restrictions, including the closure of maritime borders, come after the southwest Anglophone region announced its intention to unilaterally declare its independence on 1 October. Residents said armed forces had been deployed to the area and civilians had been told to remain calm. The region has seen unrest since late 2016 fuelled by claims the government has marginalised Anglophone communities.
Egypt: Authorities seize contraband at Ain Sokhna port
Local media reported that two containers at Ain Sokhna were seized after they were found to contain large quantities of fireworks and bladed weapons. There were no reports of arrests in connection with the seizure. Seizures of illicit and unauthorised cargos from Ain Sokhna port are common, as it is a major entry point for Chinese goods into Egypt.
India: Authorities seize 38 kg of gold at Mumbai port
Customs officials said they had seized 38 kg of gold at Mumbai port. The contraband was reportedly smuggled from Thailand and concealed in the soles of slippers in a container. Customs officials told local media that the seizure was one of the largest reported in India pertaining to undeclared gold, adding that it was not common for such large consignments of gold to be smuggled at the same time. Customs departments at ports have reportedly increased screening measures amid several reports of contraband seizures in ports across the country.
Libya: Navy vows to seize vessels violating its sovereignty
After German-based charity Mission Lifeline said that a Libyan coast guard vessel had fired shots and boarded one of its vessels in the Mediterranean, navy spokesperson General Ayub Kacem said that their patience had reached its limit, and that in the future the navy will seize the boats of NGOs that do not respect Libyan sovereignty. Kacem also said that the NGO vessel had attempted to flee from the coastguard with a Libyan official still on board, and that shots had been fired to force the vessel to stop. The Libyan coastguard, which receives training, funding and equipment from Italy, has been intercepting a growing number of vessels carrying migrants toward Europe.
Libya: Coast guard fires on, boards NGO vessel
German-based charity Mission Lifeline said that a Libyan coast guard vessel fired shots and boarded an NGO vessel in the Mediterranean. According to Mission Lifeline, the coast guard claimed the charity was operating in Libyan waters, however the crew of the vessel asserted they were in international waters. The coast guard also allegedly unsuccessfully pressured the charity to hand over 70 recently rescued migrants. Libyan officials declined to comment on the incident, the latest alleged case of aggressive behaviour by local maritime security forces.
Mali: Unknown armed men attack boat, injure five in Mopti region
Unknown armed men attacked a boat and injured five people near the village of Kouakourou located on the Niger river in Mopti region. The suspected terrorists reportedly encircled the village and established control over goods coming in and out. According to local media sources, residents were prevented from leaving the village. A contingent of Malian armed forces was deployed to secure the area but failed to push back the militants encircling the village.
Pakistan: Government considers independent security force for ports, LNG vessels
The Ministry of Ports and Shipping has told local media that the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency has expressed concerns over security threats to the country's ports and shipping areas, and has proposed to set up an independent ports security forces. The ministry has said it is considering the proposal, which comes as Pakistan is constructing several new liquefied natural gas (LNG) ports. The country has one terminal at Port Qasim handling LNG imports, but three more LNG terminals are being planned for the Karachi port, which would require increased security for both the ports and the LNG-laden vessels. Two of the LNG terminals to be built at Port Qasim are expected to be commissioned in mid- to late 2018.
Puerto Rico: President Trump lifts shipping ban
US President Donald Trump has lifted shipping restrictions under the Jones Act to help supplies reach Puerto Rico. The act limits shipping between coasts to US-flagged vessels. The US territory is facing widespread shortages of fuel, water and medicines after being hit by Hurricane Maria earlier in September. In addition, more than 90 percent of cellular communication sites remain out of service and 25 of the island's 69 hospitals are not operational.
Puerto Rico: San Juan asks for waiver of shipping restrictions to speed aid arrival
Puerto Rican officials called on Washington to lift a ban on foreign shipping between American ports, as the US island territory faces water, fuel and medical shortages after it was hit by Hurricane Maria earlier in September. The delivery of relief supplies to the island has been complicated by widespread communication outages and roads still damaged or left impassable by severe flooding. Under the Jones Act, all goods shipped between US ports must be carried by US-owned and operated vessels.
Spain: Catalan pro-independence activists, unions call for general strike on 3 October
Pro-independence groups and trades union in Catalonia have called for a general strike in the region on 3 October. If the strike goes ahead, transport in the region, as well as port activity at Barcelona and Tarragona, could face disruption. The strike follows the 1 October independence referendum, whose validity has been denied by the government in Madrid and the constitutional court. According to Catalan officials, 90 percent of votes were in favour of independence. The voting saw numerous instances of riot police using force against individuals attempting to vote, with more than 800 people reportedly injured.
Tunisia: Security forces arrest migrants in Zarzis
Authorities arrested 42 illegal migrants in a boat near Zarzis port in southeastern Tunisia. The migrants reportedly planned to sail to Italy's Lampedusa Island around 138 km away. Increased pressure on migrant sea routes out of Libya has diverted activity to other parts of North Africa, including Tunisia.
Venezuela: Robbers board tanker at Puerto La Cruz
Duty crew on board an anchored tanker at Puerto La Cruz anchorage saw two robbers armed with knives on the poop deck and immediately informed the officer of the watch. The alarm was raised and the crew mustered. Upon hearing the alarm and seeing the crew alertness, the robbers escaped without stealing anything. On 1 September, five robbers stole ship's stores at the anchorage.