Weekly Maritime Security Report 05 June 2018
East Africa and the Indian Ocean
Yemen: Unidentified assailants attack UN aid vessel off Hodeidah
Unidentified assailants attacked a UN World Food Programme vessel 32 nm off the port of Hodeidah at 1730 local time, starting a fire in the engine room, port authorities said. The assailants, who were aboard a skiff, opened fire on the vessel and attempted to take it over, Reuters quoted a UN spokesperson as saying. The incident did not cause any casualties or obvious damage to the vessel, the spokesperson added.
Yemen: Gunmen open fire on vessel in southern Red Sea
Six gunmen on board a skiff approached and opened fire on a merchant vessel 5 nm west of Jazair Az Zubayr Island in the southern Red Sea at 1812 hrs local time. The vessel's armed security team returned fire, causing the skiff to retreat. The vessel was reported as safe although further details of the attack were not disclosed.
PGI Analysis: Iran-aligned Houthi militants are likely behind the incidents on 3 June as they have previously claimed attacks against vessels perceived to be allied with the Saudi-led coalition, which it is currently fighting in Yemen. Attacks against vessels in the region have increased in recent weeks as coalition forces advance towards Hodeidah, which is currently held by Houthis. Suspicious activity and attacks against commercial vessels are regularly reported in the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
Somalia: Six skiffs approach merchant vessel off Merca
A merchant vessel reported that it was approached by around six skiffs off the town of Merca, close to shore at 1505 hrs local time. Crew and vessel were reported as safe.
PGI Analysis: Further details of the incident were not disclosed, although there is little evidence to suggest pirates were on board the skiff, which could have belonged to local fishermen. Pirate attacks close to the Somali shoreline are rare and suspicious activity has not been reported at sea in the area since 2015.
Nigeria: Two robbers board anchored carrier in Lagos
Two robbers boarded an anchored bulk carrier using a hook and rope in Lagos at 0330 hrs local time. Duty crew and the armed security guard noticed the robbers, prompting the guard to fire a warning shot that led to the robbers escaping with stolen ship's stores. Petty thefts targeting vessels are common at Lagos.
PGI Analysis: Theft, robberies and unauthorised boardings are regularly reported at Lagos port complex and outside the Secure Anchorage Area where security is considerably weaker, underscoring the need for vigilance at all times. Assailants are often armed and have been known to use force to intimidate crew into giving in to their demands.
Select Maritime News
Chile: Authorities seize 600 kg of cannabis from sinking boat
Chilean authorities reported they had intercepted a boat off Coquimbo that was sinking at high sea carrying 600 kg of cannabis onboard. The vessel had come from Colombia and its destination was unknown. Five people - a Colombian, two Ecuadoreans, a Peruvian and a Chilean were detained during the operation.
China: Paris, London plan to send warships to South China Sea
France's Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly, and Britain's Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson, announced in Singapore that warships would be sent to the South China Sea to deter China from escalating tensions in the region. Both officials stated that the decision to send warships was taken in accordance with international law and insisted on the need for negotiations with China over its reported military activities in the disputed region. China has deployed large amounts of military hardware to outposts on disputed territories in the South China Sea, causing concern among its regional neighbours.
Greece: Workers stage 24-hr general strike, protest in Athens over austerity proposals
Workers held a 24-hr general strike to protest a new set of austerity measures planned for the summer. The strike caused disruption to public transport across the country. Tens of domestic and international flights were cancelled or rescheduled and sea-faring ships were left moored at docks. Thousands of striking workers, pensioners and students rallied in front of the parliament in central Athens at around 1200 hrs local time. There were reportedly some clashes between protesters and riot police.
Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur plans to build artificial island in disputed waters
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced plans to build an artificial extension to the Middle Rocks territory in the Singapore Strait. The Middle Rocks were awarded to Malaysia by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2008 following a dispute with Singapore over the nearby island of Pedra Branca. Singapore's Foreign Ministry has stated the development would not cause tension between the states, after Malaysia dropped its appeal of the Pedra Branca ruling by the ICJ.
Oman: Salalah port resumes operations following storm
The Port of Salalah announced the resumption of operations at its cargo terminal after the completion of a damage assessment following the arrival of Cyclone Mekunu on 30 May. Port management said that all facilities are in place to resume normal services. The first container vessel is expected to arrive on 1 June.
Oman: Sohar port to develop high-capacity mineral aggregate terminal
Officials said that Sohar Port and Freezone agreed a project to operate a high-capacity mineral aggregate terminal. The terminal will be completed over 20 months and is expected to have an annual loading capacity of 8 mn tonnes. The development is expected to facilitate the export of minerals from several nearby quarries.
Peru: Authorities seize more than one tonne of cocaine at Paita port
Anti-narcotics police reported they had seized 1,150 kg of cocaine at Paita port. The narcotics, which were hidden in a shipment of frozen fish, were destined for Spain. Eight Peruvians and four Colombians were arrested in connection with the seizure. The drugs had reportedly been produced in the VRAEM region of the country. So far in 2018, authorities have confiscated more than 25 tonnes of drugs.
Sri Lanka: Navy arrests five illegal immigrants, two human smugglers off Jaffna
The Sri Lanka Navy arrested a group of illegal immigrants and their smugglers in the northern seas off Jaffna city. Naval personnel intercepted a suspicious dinghy and arrested seven people including two women, two men and a child, according to the Navy Media Unit.
Tunisia: Migrant boat accident death toll rises to 60
Some 60 migrants died after their vessel sank off the Tunisian island of Kerkennah, marking one of the worst migrant boat accidents in years. According to the UN migration agency, 48 of the victims were Tunisian nationals. Security officials said there were 180 migrants aboard the boat, including 80 from other countries in Africa. Increased pressure on migrant sea routes out of Libya has diverted activity to other parts of North Africa, including Tunisia.
United States: Pentagon official warns Beijing of capabilities to destroy artificial islands
Kenneth McKenzie, US Department of Defence joint staff director, warned China that the US has the capabilities to destroy China's artificial islands in the South China Sea. McKenzie stated that the US would continue to conduct freedom of navigation operations in the region, after China deployed warships to warn US navy warships sailing close to the disputed Paracel Islands. China has repeatedly stated that its transfer of military hardware to outposts in the South China Sea is not intended to heighten tensions in the region.
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