Weekly Maritime Security Report 19 December 2018
East Africa and the Indian Ocean
Yemen: Skiffs approach merchant vessel in Gulf of Aden
A Philippines-flagged crude oil tanker reported it was approached by 15-20 fast-moving skiffs with four to five persons on board each while transiting the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) at 1145 hrs local time. The embarked armed security team fired warning shots and the vessel was reported as safe.
PGI Analysis: The incident underscores the continued threat to vessels transiting waters off Yemen. The motive behind such approaches remains uncertain, although vessels often resort to firing warning shots to deter approaching skiffs in the Gulf of Aden and southern Red Sea.
Malaysia: Kidnappers abduct three fishermen off Tambisan Island
According to a late report, kidnappers abducted three fishermen in the vicinity of Pegasus Reed off Tambisan Island at around 1930 hrs local time. The fishing vessel was later found unmanned with the engine running off Kuala Meruap, Sabah, near Tambisan Island. One skipper was shot in the thigh while others are reportedly unhurt.
PGI Analysis: An investigation into the incident remains ongoing although Sabah Police have identified the group responsible and are monitoring them closely, according to local reports. There is no indication the abductors have demanded ransom. It remains unclear which group is behind the kidnapping, although Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is known to operate in the waters off Sabah. The incident comes months after two fishermen were kidnapped off Sabah in September, raising concerns ASG is resuming kidnap for ransom attacks at sea in the region.
Vietnam: Armed robbers steal from vessel at Cam Pha Anchorage
Duty crew sighted robbers armed with knives and bamboo sticks on board a bulk carrier anchored at Cam Pha Anchorage at 0610 hrs local time. Crew raised the alarm, prompting the assailants to flee in a wooden boat and ship's stores were found to be stolen.
PGI Analysis: Robberies are sporadically reported at Cam Pha Anchorage, although many incidents likely go unreported. Robbers targeting vessels at anchor in Southeast Asia are often armed and have been known to threaten and tie up crew in order to steal ship's stores. Robberies are most common at night or in the early hours of the morning when visibility is reduced.
Nigeria: Pirates attack vessel 84 nm off Brass
A merchant vessel reported that it came under attack 84 nm off Brass, Bayelsa state, at 0120 hrs local time. The vessel was reported as safe, although further details of the incident were not disclosed.
PGI Analysis: Pirate attacks are common in the waters off the Niger Delta states and assailants are often highly aggressive and persistent, frequently chasing and opening fire on merchant vessels for several hours.
Select Maritime News
Chile: Port workers continue to protest in Valparaiso
Hundreds of port workers protested in Valparaiso to demand improved working conditions and extra financial compensation. The demonstrators blocked roads around Plaza Sotomayor, near Valparaiso port. There were also reports of demonstrators clashing with security forces in the area, injuring several people. Authorities reportedly arrested at least 16 people. The impact of the demonstrations on port operations remains unclear.
Cyprus: Limassol port workers threaten indefinite strike
Workers at Limassol port threatened to launch an indefinite strike if their demands over collective agreements for working conditions and safety standards were not accepted within the next eight days. The warning followed a two-hour strike between 0800 hrs and 1000 hrs local time on 14 December. The stoppage affected the servicing of two merchant vessels at the Eurogate terminal and a vessel at the DP World Limassol terminal. Consultations between the parties are being arbitrated by the transport ministry in a bid to reconcile differences. A strike in October was resolved after union representatives were given written assurances from the Eurogate Container Terminal in relation to negotiations for the collective agreement.
Greece: Authorities seize USD 113 mn worth of drugs on Syrian-flagged ship
Authorities reported to have seized USD 113 mn worth of drugs on a Syrian-flagged ship "Noka", which was later confiscated and held at the port of Herakli in Crete. Police reportedly seized over six tons of hashish and about 3 million tablets of Captagon. The shipment was reportedly bound for Benghazi, Libya. The breakdown of state institutions during Syria's civil war has turned the country into a major producer and consumer of Captagon, which has been used to stimulate and fund militants.
Guatemala: Authorities seize 4.3 tonnes of cocaine in the Pacific coast
Authorities seized 4.3 tonnes of cocaine during an operation in the Pacific Ocean. Authorities seized the narcotics after drug smugglers aboard small boats disposed of the narcotics in the sea after spotting the presence of navy patrols. No arrests were reported over the incident.
Iran: Petrochemical workers protest in Mahshahr Port
Tens of Farabi Petrochemical Complex workers in Mahshahr Port, Khuzestan province, took part in a strike and protest to demand changes to an employee classification scheme and higher wages. Workers began the labour protests several days earlier.
Libya: Security forces seize two containers of cannabis in Tobruk
Security forces seized two containers filled with cannabis in the northeastern port city of Tobruk. The exact weight of the narcotics, which were confiscated at Tobruk port, was not disclosed. Years of conflict and fractured territorial control between armed groups have fuelled trafficking in Libya, which serves as a transhipment route for narcotics.
Morocco: Navy seize 300 kg of cannabis off north coast
A Moroccan Royal Navy vessel seized 300 kg of cannabis resin from a speedboat in an unspecified location in the Mediterranean Sea off the north coast of Morocco. The contraband was likely intended for the European market, reported a military source. Large-scale contraband seizures are common in Moroccan waters, with the country a major producer and exporter of cannabis.
Puerto Rico: Authorities seize nearly 100 kg of drugs at Pan-American dock
Authorities seized about 100 kg of cocaine hidden inside a container at Pan-American dock, San Juan. Authorities found the narcotics during a non-intrusive cargo inspection at the maritime facility. The narcotics arrived from the Dominican Republic and were destined to mainland US, according to local authorities.
Puerto Rico: Authorities seize over a tonne of drugs off the coast of Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico
US coast guards seized nearly 1.2 tonnes of cocaine from a small vessel in international waters near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Authorities seized the drugs from a speed boat about 65 nautical miles off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, during a routine operation. Three drug smugglers aboard the vessel were arrested.
South Korea: Authorities seize 64 kg of cocaine at Busan port
Authorities seized 64 kg of cocaine smuggled aboard a container ship, Yonhap News reported. Customs agents acting on a tip-off from Mexican authorities discovered a bag containing taped packages with an estimated value of USD 160 mn. The incident was not previously disclosed. The container was reportedly first shipped from Ecuador to Mexico on 17 October and docked at a port in Busan on 14 November. It was scheduled to arrive in China on 20 November, authorities said. The discovery marks the largest single seizure of contraband at Busan port.
United Kingdom: Russian cargo vessel runs aground off Cornwall
The Kuzma Minin Russian bulk cargo ship ran aground between the Swanpool and Gyllyngvase beaches near Falmouth in Cornwall at around 0540 hrs local time. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency declared a major incident and rescue vessels were deployed to assist the vessel. The vessel has 18 Russian crew onboard but is carrying no cargo. The coastguard is planning to refloat the ship when the tide has risen. The coastguard said there are no reports of any pollution and an area around the vessel has been cordoned off.
United Kingdom: Royal Navy ship enters Black Sea
HMS Echo has entered the Black Sea, the first Royal Navy deployment there since Russian forces seized Ukrainian naval vessels and crew off Crimea on 25 November. Under the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits, the vessel can remain in the Black Sea for 21 days. The vessel's visit to the Black Sea was reportedly agreed during a visit of the Ukrainian defence minister to London on 21 November. The main purpose of the HMS Echo is hydrographic research, as well as support of amphibious operations and identification of underwater objects.
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