Weekly Maritime Security Report 16 July 2019
Congo: Unarmed robbers board vessel off Pointe-Noire
Two unarmed robbers boarded an anchored vessel at 0430 hrs local time off Pointe-Noire. The two suspects stole ropes and fled in a white skiff. The vessel and crew were reported safe.
PVI Analysis: Robberies at Pointe-Noire anchorage and in nearby waters are intermittently reported. While in this incident the robbers were unarmed, pirates in the area are often armed and violent, occasionally causing injuries to crew members. Robbers tend to attack during the night to take advantage of low visibility.
Malaysia: Robbers board barge off Tanjung Piai
According to late reports, six robbers boarded an underway Niue-flagged tug boat towing a barge from a nearby small boat and proceeded to steal some tools before escaping at 1650 hrs local time, approximately 3.3 nm southeast of Tanjung Piai, Johor. The master of the tug notified the Singapore Vessel Traffic Information System via VHF of the incident. The tug and barge proceeded to continue their voyage towards Port Klang. The vessel and crew were reported safe.
Malaysia: Robbers board tug boat off Tanjung Piai
According to late reports, an unspecified number of robbers in four sampans boarded an underway Malaysia-flagged tug boat towing a barge at 1800 hrs local time, approximately 5.9 nm southeast of Tanjung Piai, Johor, while it was en route to Port Klang. The robbers stole some scrap metal and a few small items from the barge before they escaped. The crew were not injured.
PVI Analysis: There has been an uptick in unauthorised boarding of ships in the western sector of the Singapore Strait in 2019. The reported incidents have targeted tug boats towing barges and dredger. Some of the incidents have resulted in the loss of scrap metal and other items, however crew were not injured in any of the incidents.
Select Maritime News
Gibraltar: Police release crew members of seized tankers
Police released all four arrested crew members of an Iranian oil tanker seized by authorities on 4 July on suspicion of breaching sanctions on Syria. The four, all Indian citizens, were released on bail. No charges have been filed against them, though an investigation remains ongoing. The seizure of the tanker prompted threats of retaliation by Iran amid heightened tensions in the region.
Iran: Three vessels block British tanker in Strait of Hormuz
Three Iranian vessels attempted to block the passage of a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. British government officials say that Iranian harassment of the tanker forced the British warship HMS Montrose to intervene by sending verbal warnings and driving the Iranian vessels away. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard have denied the claims. The incident follows Britain detaining an oil tanker on 4 July off the coast of Gibraltar for breaking EU sanctions on oil shipments to Syria.
Iran: UAE oil tanker disappears in Iranian waters
A Panama-flagged UAE oil tanker has disappeared in Iranian waters off Qeshm Island, reported social media sources. Satellite data indicates the tanker was transiting the Strait of Hormuz when it slowed, turned to face Qeshm Island, left the main shipping lane and ceased contact with its owner. The disappearance comes after Tehran threatened to seize a British oil tanker after British military forces seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar on 4 July. Multiple countries have accused Tehran of orchestrating the 12 May attacks on oil tankers in Emirati territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman. Iran has denied all involvement.
Libya: Authorities intercept migrant vessel off Mediterranean coast
Libyan authorities said they intercepted a vessel bound for Europe, which was transporting 23 illegal migrants. The boat was reportedly intercepted about 18 miles north of the coastal Mellitah oil and gas complex, off the Mediterranean coast. Libya is a major transit point for illegal migrants travelling to Europe.
Libya: Coast guard intercepts 53 migrants off Sabratha
The coast guard intercepted 53 migrants travelling on rubber boats off the western town of Sabratha. The migrants were all reported to be nationals of unspecified African countries. Libya is a major transit point for illegal migrants travelling to Europe.
Morocco: Navy intercepts 161 migrants in Mediterranean
The navy intercepted 161 migrants who ran into trouble in the Mediterranean overnight. The migrants were mostly nationals from unspecified sub-Saharan African countries. Migrant departures from Morocco towards Spain have increased since 2018, as other transit countries have stepped up anti-human trafficking measures.
Tunisia: Authorities rescue 12 migrants off coast near Kerkennah
Naval forces rescued 12 migrants after a vessel capsized off the coast near Kerkennah, Sfax governorate, during an attempt to cross the Mediterranean. The vessel had left from Zarzis and was aiming to reach Tunisia when it capsized. Incidents during illegal Mediterranean crossings are common and human smugglers often use unseaworthy vessels.
United Kingdom: Troops seize Iranian tanker off Gibraltar over Syria sanctions
The British Royal Marines boarded and seized an Iranian supertanker off the coast of Gibraltar on suspicion it was carrying oil bound for Syria in breach of EU sanctions. The Iranian foreign ministry summoned the British envoy to the country in response to the incident, which comes amid heightened tensions between US and Iran in the region.
United Kingdom: UK sends second warship to Gulf
Britain is sending a second warship to the Gulf amid heightened regional tensions prompted by the seizure of an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar by the Royal Navy on 4 July. Government officials said the move to send HMS Duncan to the Gulf was part of a pre-planned rotation to ensure continued maritime security presence in the area.
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