Weekly Maritime Security Report 18 June 2019
East Africa and Indian Ocean
Iran: Attacks target two tankers in Gulf of Oman
Two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman were evacuated after an unspecified attack. In a statement, BSM Ship Management said all 21 crew members had abandoned the Kokuka Courageous around 14 nm from Iran. At least one crew member was slightly injured. Another vessel, the Front Altair, was also abandoned after crew reported the ship was on fire after it was struck by a suspected torpedo. The crew from both vessels were reported safe.
PVI Analysis: Details of both incidents remain unclear. However, the US and the UK have blamed Iran for the attacks. The latest attacks have further exacerbated tensions between the US and Iran following the 12 May attacks on four oil tankers of the UAE, which multiple countries have attributed to Iran.
South East Asia
Philippines: Suspected ASG militants reportedly kidnap 10 fishermen in Tawi-Tawi
Suspected Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) militants have reportedly kidnapped 10 fishing crewmen in Sabah waters close to the Tawi-Tawi chain of islands in the southern Philippines. Media reports cited unconfirmed reports as saying that, at about 0200 hrs local time, militants in speedboats hijacked two fishing boats in Lahad Datu's Tambisan waters that were headed toward Semporna. The nationalities of the victims remain unclear.
PGI Analysis: Kidnapping is common in the southern Philippines. The ASG are known for kidnapping people for ransom in southwest Mindanao, especially in Zamboanga province, and in the Sulu Archipelago, which includes Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, and Basilan provinces. Sailors and foreigners are regularly abducted in the Sulu Sea.
Select Maritime News
Ecuador: Authorities seize 1 tonne of cocaine off Esmeraldas
The US Coast Guard seized 1 tonne of cocaine from two speedboats in international waters off the coast of Esmeraldas. Six people were arrested at the scene. Authorities said the drug traffickers were travelling toward Esmeralda´s port, where they intended to ship the narcotics to an unreported location.
Egypt: Authorities announce drugs seizure at Port Said
The interior ministry announced the arrest of eight people in connection with the seizure of around 2 tonnes of cannabis and 3.97 million tablets of captagon. The drugs were seized from containers at Port Said, a terminal at the northern end of the Suez Canal. A further 4.4 million narcotic pills were seized from a storage facility used by the gang in Obour city, Qalyubiya. The exact date of the seizure and arrests was not confirmed.
Indonesia: Ferry sinks off Madura island, killing 17
A passenger ferry carrying 57 people capsized in rough seas near Madura island, killing at least 17 people. Authorities have rescued 39 passengers, while one other passenger remains missing. Authorities said the capsizing was likely caused by overloading. Ferry accidents in Indonesia are common and vessels are frequently overloaded and poorly maintained.
Iran: Tehran says it oversees security of Strait of Hormuz
Iranian officials said that Iran is responsible for maintaining the security of the Strait of Hormuz, following an attack on two oil-tankers in the Gulf of Oman on 13 June. The claims follow allegations made by Washington, who purported to have video evidence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded mine from the side of one of the damaged oil-tankers. Tehran responded directly to the accusations by labelling them alarming. The latest attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf region follow the 12 May attacks on four oil tankers off the UAE, which multiple countries have attributed to Iran.
Libya: Coast guard intercepts 91 migrants off Qarabulli
The coast guard intercepted 91 migrants off the northwestern city of Qarabulli. The migrants were all nationals of unspecified African countries. They were taken to the Tripoli naval base and transferred to a migrant detention centre. Libya remains a major departure point for migrants seeking to reach Europe.
Tunisia: Coast guard intercepts 28 migrants off Mahdia
The coast guard intercepted 28 migrants off the eastern city of Mahdia. Most of the migrants were nationals of unspecified sub-Saharan African countries studying in Tunisia. Tunisia is a transit country for sub-Saharan migrants trying to reach Europe.
Turkey: Migrant boat sinks off Bodrum, eight killed
A boat carrying illegal migrants sank off the coast of Bodrum in western Turkey. Authorities recovered eight bodies after the incident. Some 31 other migrants were rescued by local coast guards. Turkey is a major transit route for migrants trying to reach Europe.
UAE: Abu Dhabi, Tokyo discuss defence cooperation after tanker attacks
Emirati and Japanese officials discussed military and defence cooperation following attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on 13 June. Initial reports confirmed no details of any defence agreement following the talks. An unidentified explosion on the Japan-owned tanker, Kokuka Courageous, triggered a fire and forced the evacuation of the vessel. US officials blamed the attacks on Tehran, which denies the allegations.
United Kingdom: Greenpeace activists reoccupy oil rig
Greenpeace activists have reoccupied the Transocean oil rig off the coast of Invergordon, after police arrested two campaigners on the evening of 13 June. Greenpeace confirmed that after the arrests, two more activists boarded the oil rig. Police have arrested a total of nine people since protests began on 9 June.
Vietnam: Authorities seize 7.5 tonnes of elephant ivory, pangolin sales in Hai Phong
Authorities seized 7.5 tonnes of elephant ivory and pangolin scales at northern Hai Phong port, the Vietnam News Agency reported. Details about the origin of the shipping container carrying the contraband was not immediately available. However, the freight was reportedly addressed to a logistic company in Hai Phong city. Trade in ivory and pangolin is illegal in Vietnam, but wildlife trafficking remains widespread.
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