Weekly Maritime Security Report 15 May 2018
East Africa and Indian Ocean
Eritrea: Merchant vessel reports attack in southern Red Sea
A merchant vessel reported that it came under attack 28 nm off the Eritrean coast in the southern Red Sea at 2315 hrs local time, although further details of the incident remain unconfirmed. The report coincided with unconfirmed reports that a bulk carrier sustained damage after coming under fire from a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) off Hodeidah.
PGI Analysis: The unconfirmed report comes weeks after the Yemeni Houthi militant group claimed an RPG attack in international waters off Hodeidah on 3 April against the Saudi-flagged oil tanker Abqaiq. The reports indicate that Houthi militants are increasingly targeting commercial vessels perceived to be linked to the Saudi-led coalition currently fighting Houthi militants in Yemen. The reports came days before the coalition launched military renewed operations to retake Hodeidah from Houthi control on 14 May.
Nigeria: Pirates attempt to board underway bulk carrier off the coast of Brass
Six pirates on board a speed boat approached an underway bulk carrier at 1020 hrs local time 41 nm off the coast of Brass. The pirates attempted to board the vessel, but the captain took evasive manoeuvres, mustered crew, activated SSAS and increased speed. The pirates aborted the boarding attempt.
PGI Analysis: Niger Delta-based pirates frequently target commercial vessels in kidnap for ransom attacks off the coast of Brass. Pirates in the region are typically armed and are highly persistent during such attacks, often only aborting a boarding attempt when they have been shot. Even when crew barricade themselves in a citadel pirates will often stay on board the vessel for hours, stealing any items available.
Select Maritime News
Jordan: Controlled explosion injures 10 in Aqaba's old port
Ten people were moderately injured by a controlled explosion to demolish silos in the old port of Aqaba. The explosion also caused a fire by igniting an oxygen cylinder used for iron cutting. Initial reports of the explosion suggested rockets had been fired towards Israel but had landed in Aqaba, although these remain unconfirmed.
Libya: Coastguard intercepts over 500 migrants
The coastguard said it intercepted over 500 migrants in two separate operations off the country's northwestern coast. Over 400 migrants were intercepted off Garabulli while another 100 were stopped near Sabratha, the naval coastguard spokesman said. The migrants were taken to a detention centre in Tripoli. Libya remains an important transit country for migrants trying to reach European shores, although departures have dropped significantly in recent months due to anti-human smuggling measures.
Pakistan: Government orders two oil firms to suspend operations in Karachi Port
The Ministry of Energy's petroleum division requested the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) to suspend unauthorised operations by two oil marketing firms, Al-Noor terminal and Hascol Petroleum, at Keamari terminal, Karachi Port, over security concerns. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) had written to government agencies in February and June 2017 to express concern at suspected unauthorised operations without prior security clearance taking place at two key oil installations at the terminal. Any future storage terminals operated by the two firms require a No Objection Certificate from the MOD.
Pakistan: PM opens deep-water container terminal at Karachi port
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi opened an advanced deep-water container terminal at Karachi port. The new terminal cost USD 1.4 bn, with Abbasi stating the terminal would connect Pakistan globally and make the port a major regional hub. The terminal will be run by a public-private partnership of the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and Hong Kong based Hutchinson Ports.
Yemen: Coalition launches operation to seize Hodeidah from Houthis
Forces of the Saudi-led coalition have started a push towards the Houthi-held port city of Hodeidah, local officials said. Yemeni officials said that coalition forces would avoid entering densely populated areas and would try to cut up supply lines to isolate the rebels. As part of the operation, UAE forces launched an amphibious assault in al-Faza region along the Red Sea coast and destroyed a Houthi command centre, according to state-run UAE media. An unspecified number of rebels were killed and injured during the clashes, UAE media reported. Houthis said they were ready to repel the offensive and claimed to have killed tens of pro-government forces. The Saudi-led coalition has accused the rebels of using Hodeidah to smuggle Iranian-made weapons into the country, including missiles fired at Saudi Arabia.
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