Weekly Maritime Security Report 11 April 2017
East Africa and the Indian Ocean
Somalia: Update: Pirates lose Indian dhow, retain crew during operation
Galmudug security forces successfully seized the Indian cargo dhow, the Al Kaushar, during an operation to rescue the 11 crew members held by pirates who hijacked the vessel and kidnapped the crew on 1 April. Pirates reportedly abandoned the vessel and fled with their abductees after local elders warned them security forces were on their way. According to Reuters, local pirate leader Saiid said they would use the crew to bargain for the release of other pirates currently jailed in India. The specific location of the operation was not disclosed although the vessel's last known location was near the Glamudug town of Hobyo.
Somalia: Piracy attack prevented by international naval forces
A piracy attack on the Tuvalu-flagged OS 35 bulk carrier was prevented by Chinese and Indian naval support. A Chinese naval vessel supported by an Indian helicopter responded to a distress signal raised by the vessel when it came under attack off the coast of Yemen. All 16 Filipino crew went to the ship's citadel and raised a distress signal, prompting the international naval response. The vessel is now sailing to its next destination under naval escort and all crew are reported to be in good health.
Somalia: Officials say pirates hijack Pakistani cargo vessel
Pirates have hijacked a Pakistani-owned cargo vessel the MV Salama 1 off central Somalia, according to local officials cited by the New York Times. It is unclear how many crew were on board on the vessel and the precise location of the attack, although it was reportedly carrying food. If verified, the incident would mark the fourth hijacking off Somalia since 13 March, raising concerns among shippers over the beginning of a resurgence of piracy activity in the region.
Yemen: Gunmen approach merchant vessel in Gulf of Aden
Suspected pirates on board a vessel accompanied by four skiffs came within 1 nm of a merchant vessel 111 nm northwest of Socotra Island in the Gulf of Aden, near Point B of the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC), at 0615 hrs local time. Each skiff had four armed persons on board. The merchant vessel's embarked armed security team showed their presence, prompting the vessels to move away and the merchant vessel was reported as safe. The incident comes after four reports of hijackings in the High Risk Area, with some of the activity centred around Socotra Island, since 13 March when the Aris 13 bunkering tanker was hijacked.
PGI Analysis: The hijacking of the MV Salama 1 marks the fourth successful attack against a vessel in the High Risk Area (HRA) in recent weeks, raising concerns among shippers that the attacks and approaches could mark the beginning of a resurgence of piracy in the region. The attacks have been linked to local pirate kingpins in Galmudug and Puntland states, who were behind the piracy epidemic between 2008-2012, indicating former pirates have regrouped and maintain the capacity to conduct attacks against vessels which fail to implement effective counter-piracy measures. Attacks and approaches have taken place off northern and central Somalia, in the Socotra Gap and in the Gulf of Aden since March, although suspicious activity and approaches by gunmen have repeatedly been reported in the southern Red Sea since July 2016, indicating the threat to vessels is still present further north.
Angola: Robbers board bulk carrier on Congo River
Duty crew on board a bulk carrier sighted six robbers on the vessel's forecastle between 0200 hrs and 0400 hrs local time on the Congo river on the Democratic Republic of Congo border, prompting them to raise the alarm and muster the crew. The robbers fled with stolen ship's properties upon seeing the alerted crew.
PGI Analysis: Robberies targeting commercial vessels in Angola are thought to be seriously under reported given Angola suffers high levels of robberies onshore, with only two maritime robberies incidents reported since June 2016. Robbers targeting vessels are typically opportunistic and non-violent, often taking advantage of low visibility at night to steal small items from ships' stores.
Nigeria: Vessel reports suspected attempted robbery off the coast of Lagos
A merchant vessel raised its alarm and called for assistance from the Nigerian Navy after spotting movement on the forecastle deck at 0335 hrs local time. The vessel was travelling some 15 km off the coast of Lagos at the time of the incident. The navy conducted an investigation and found nobody on board and nothing was reported stolen.
PGI Analysis: Unauthorised boardings and robberies are intermittently reported at Lagos port complex and outside the Secure Anchorage Area, with many more thought to go unreported. Security at Lagos port remains weak and uncoordinated, although it has improved in recent years to the extent that violent attacks around the port are rare.
Select Maritime News
China: Beijing, ASEAN make progress in talks over South China Sea code of conduct
According to Philippine acting foreign minister Enrique Manalo, China and the ASEAN countries have made progress in talks on a code of conduct for the disputed South China Sea, amid heightened tensions due to Chinese military activities at the Spratly and Paracel islands. Manila said good progress has been made in China-ASEAN meetings in Indonesia and Cambodia since January, and a number of elements have been agreed. A final draft of the agreement could be approved ahead of the August meeting of the ASEAN foreign ministers in Manila.
France: French authorities rescue six migrants at English Channel
French maritime authorities have rescued six migrants whose fishing boat was sinking in the English Channel. The migrants were reported to be Iranian in origin. The rescue efforts took more than two hours due to thick fog. The boat was found not far from Calais, where thousands of migrants reside in hope of crossing to the UK via the Channel Tunnel. The incident came several months after French authorities dispersed a migrant camp at Calais. The English Channel is not a common migrant route.
Indonesia: Cargo vessel sinks after collision near Thousand Islands
The KM Bhaita Jaya Samudra cargo vessel sank after a collision with a motor vessel, the MT Elizabeth, in the waters near Damar Island in the Thousand Islands archipelago. The MT Elizabeth, carrying waste from palm oil processing, was reported as listing severely but still afloat. Initial media reports did not confirm the cause of the collision.
Indonesia: Oil vessel explodes off Central Java, killing crewmember
An oil vessel owned by Indonesian state oil firm Pertamina exploded while carrying fuel to the Karimunjawa islands in Central Java, killing one helmsman and injuring three other crew. The vessel was carrying 18 drums of biosolar and 36 drums of Pertalite when the explosion occurred. Pertamina said it has temporarily suspended the transport of those two fuels following the incident. The cause of the explosion remains unclear.
Libya: Coastguard clashes with suspected smugglers, kills four
Clashes between suspected migrant smugglers and the Libyan coast guard left four people dead off the western coast of Libya, Reuters reported. The shootout had begun after security personnel attempted to apprehend heavily armed men whose vessel was detected on radar. Two of the suspected smugglers were arrested. Libya's waters remain high risk due to elevated levels of smuggling and the presence of multiple armed groups.
Mozambique: Pretoria extends deployment of SANDF members in anti-piracy operation
South African President Jacob Zuma extended the deployment of members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for service in the Mozambique channel anti-piracy operation. Zuma extended the deployment of 200 SANDF members until 31 March 2018. SANDF has provided a permanent deployment in Mozambique waters since January 2011, using a rotation of offshore patrol vessels, frigates and maritime patrol aircraft.
Norway: Oslo to build ship tunnel through Stad peninsula
Norway announced plans to build a 1.7 km long ship tunnel through a rocky coast in the Stad peninsula to allow vessels to avoid a dangerous part of the sea. The tunnel, which will be the world's first, is expected to cost USD 314 mn, and will be 36 metres wide and 49 metres high. The tunnel is expected to allow the passage of cruise and freight ships weighing up to 16,000 tonnes.
Philippines: Duterte assures Beijing no offensive weapons will be placed on disputed islands
President Rodrigo Duterte has assured China that the Philippines will not place any "offensive weapons" on disputed islands in the South China Sea, amid an escalation in the dispute in recent months as China shows few signs of retreating from the islands it already controls. The comments come days after Duterte said he ordered troops to occupy the uninhabited islands in the Spratly archipelago, and warned that there could be an eventual low-intensity war over the Spratlys. The president soon retracted the comments, saying Manila would not engage in a military build-up.
Turkey: Fire in marina kills one in Marmaris
One person was killed and another injured when a fire broke out in a marina in the district of Marmaris in Mugla province. Three yachts were also burned in the fire. There were no immediate reports on the cause of the fire, although police suspect it may have been caused by an arson attack. An Irish citizen has been arrested on suspicion that he set fire to the marina. The district of Marmaris is a popular destination for tourists and European expats.
Turkey: Fog prompts maritime traffic suspension in the Bosporus
A thick fog has prompted authorities to suspend maritime traffic in Istanbul's Bosporus Strait in the early hours of 4 April, Dogan News Agency reported. The suspension came into effect at 0100 hrs local time and remained in force at 1200 hrs local time. Fog frequently disrupts maritime traffic in Istanbul.