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Weekly Maritime Security Report 07 August 2018

Saudi Arabia: Riyadh resumes oil exports through Bab el-Mandeb

2 August

Saudi Arabia announced that oil shipments transiting through the Bab el-Mandeb strait were to resume as of 2 August. Exports had been temporarily suspended after Houthi rebels launched attacks on two Saudi Very Large Crude Carriers in the Red Sea on 25 July, causing light damage to one of the vessels.

PGI Analysis: The announcement comes after the Houthi rebel group said that it would unilaterally halt attacks in the Red Sea for two weeks from 0000 hrs local time on 1 August to support peace efforts. The group said that the halt in naval military operations could be extended to all parts of Yemen if the Saudi-led coalition fighting against the rebel group reciprocates. The group has repeatedly targeted Saudi vessels amid a coalition operation against the group in Hodeidah.

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China: Beijing, ASEAN agree South China Sea code of conduct

2 August

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed on a draft code of conduct that will be the basis for negotiations over the disputed South China Sea. The agreement was announced at a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Singapore, after being confirmed at a China-ASEAN meeting in June. The document is an attempt to reduce tensions that have risen as China has built artificial islands and military installations in the disputed waters also claimed by Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei. The announcement comes after China and other countries have sent military vessels to the disputed waters, increasing the risk of a major confrontation in the area.

Chile: Navy intercepts two fishing boats off the coast of Antofagasta

1 August

Naval forces seized two Peruvian fishing boats illegally fishing in Chilean waters 498 km south of Antofagasta. The navy escorted the two vessels to the Port of Arcia, where crew were handed over to authorities. The navy has sought to step up operations against illegal fishing in its territorial waters in recent years.

Colombia: Authorities seize submarine with 748 kg of cocaine near Gorgona island

1 August

The navy intercepted a semi-submersible submarine carrying 748 kg of cocaine near Gorgona island. Authorities arrested four Colombian crew members. Reports did not specify the group affiliation of the arrested suspects. Authorities regularly seize cocaine shipments intended for Central America and the US.

Iran: IRGC confirms holding war games in the Gulf

5 August

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) confirmed that it had held war games in the Gulf in recent days after US officials said they suspected Iran had commenced naval exercises in the area. The IRGC said the exercise aimed at protecting the safety of the international waterway. The statement comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran ahead of the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran on 7 August.

Israel: Navy intercepts Gaza-bound activist boat

4 August

The Israeli navy intercepted a Swedish-flagged activist boat in international waters bound for Gaza. The military released a statement that the boat violated the naval blockade and that any humanitarian aid should be directed through Ashdod port. Activists said the boat was carrying medical supplies. The UN has called for the blockade to be lifted to due to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Myanmar: Government revises Chinese-funded port project due to debt concerns

2 August

Myanmar has scaled back plans for a Chinese-funded port on its western coast due to debt concerns, a senior government official said. The initial cost of USD 7.3 bn for the Kyauk Pyu deep-water port has reportedly been revised to about USD 1.3 bn. China's state-run CITIC Group, the main developer of the project, said negotiations were ongoing. The original plan was to develop around 10 berths at sea port to accommodate bigger oil tankers, but the size will now be revised to only two berths. The Kyauk Pyu port is a key part of Beijing's Belt and Road initiative, aimed at expanding trade links across the world. The incident is the latest in a number of Chinese-backed projects that have come under scrutiny over debt concerns in countries across Asia including Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Malaysia.

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