Weekly Maritime Security Report 07 January 2020
East Africa and the Indian Ocean
UK/Straits of Hormuz: British Royal Navy to escort British shipping in Straits of Hormuz
The British Royal Navy will escort British-flagged commercial ships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz amid escalating tensions in the region. The Royal Navy previously escorted British ships in the area between July and November 2019, after the seizure of a British vessel by Iran. The decision comes after a US air strike killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, prompting fears of a major escalation in the region.
Analysis: A response to the US air strike has been committed to by Iran and is widely expected. What form it may take is unknown but tensions in the Straits of Hormuz will increase significantly with the risk of sympathetic, proxy or possibly Iranian attacks and seizures of shipping in the area significantly increased.
Egypt: Authorities close Alexandria and Dekhelia ports due to bad weather
Authorities closed the Mediterranean ports of Alexandria and Dekheila due to high waves and strong winds. Ships are barred from entering or leaving the ports until further notice but unloading operations have not been affected.
Analysis: Expect severe disruption to shipping entering or leaving these ports.
Nigeria: 4 killed in attack near Nigerian coast
FOUR military personnel were killed and two others injured as three crew were taken following an attack on a Nigeria-flagged vessel near the Forcados terminal in Nigeria. Pirates boarded the vessel when it was operating about 3 nm from the mouth of the Ramos river. It is understood that a firefight occurred between the embarked security personnel on the dredger and the pirates. After a heavy exchange of gunfire, the pirates were able to board the vessel and abducted two Russian and one Indian crew members, leaving five crew behind.
Analysis: This is the first offshore incident within this location since November 2018 although similar incidents targeting locals working in the oil and gas sector in inland delta area are common. There has been a steady increase in piracy throughout the region and West Africa generally possibly signalling an overall deterioration in the security situation and audacity of maritime criminal elements.
Select Maritime News
Gulf Region:International maritime protection plans
US Naval deployments include the Carrier Strike Group 72 in (USS Abraham Lincoln) with the US 5th Fleet in The Gulf in support of the US-led International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC - Op SENTINEL) to protect shipping in the region. CSG 72 and 75 are conducting handover of responsibilities with the flag-ship of CSG 72 (USS Abraham Lincoln) handing over to CSG 75 (USS Harry S Truman). There is a similar European initiative planned for early 2020 which will coordinate with IMSC: mounted out of France's naval base in Abu Dhabi the mission is planned to involve approximately 10 nations including the UK (who are involved in the IMSC now). Believing there is a heightened risk of security incidents in the Straits of Hormuz, the UK Dept for Transport said the aim of the missions is to ensure "UK-flagged ships will soon be able to transit the Strait of Hormuz without close Royal Naval accompaniment..."
Motherships confirmed as piracy operational bases in Gulf of Guinea
The pirate-infested waters in the Gulf of Guinea are now the world's most dangerous for international shipping, with at least nine vessels attacked and 89 crew hijacked for ransom so far in 2019. At least two piracy groups working in the Gulf of Guinea are responsible for the recent spate of attacks on tankers and kidnapping of crew. The pirate-infested waters of the Gulf of Guinea are now the world's most dangerous for international shipping, with at least nine vessels attacked and 89 crew hijacked for ransom in 2019. The pirates are operating from mothership vessels on the peripheries of the EEZ, using it as cover from Nigerian security forces. These vessels often disable their auto-identification systems to conceal them during attacks.
Peru: Authorities seize 500kg of cocaine in Puira
Police seized 500 kg of cocaine paste and arrested six drug smugglers at a warehouse in Piura. The seizure took place on 1 January, though authorities only released information about the incident on 5 January. Authorities said the narcotics were going to be placed into cargoes of passion fruit concentrate and coffee beans to be shipped to the Netherlands from an unknown Peruvian port. Large-scale drug seizures are common in Peru.
Tunisia: Coast Guard rescue 53 would-be migrants off Kerkennah
The coast guard rescued 53 would-be migrants off the coast of the Kerkennah Islands, local media reported. The Italy-bound migrants had run into difficulty at sea. They were all Tunisian nationals. Attempts to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe are common in Tunisia, which suffers from high unemployment.
Turkey: Migrant vessel sinks in Aegean Sea, killing eight
A boat carrying 15 migrants capsized off the town of Fethiye in the Aegean Sea, killing at least eight people. The victims' nationalities were not immediately clear. Turkey remains a key transit point for migrants trying to reach Europe.
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