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Weekly Maritime Security Report 20 June 2018

South East Asia 

Malaysia: Armed robbers target tanker off Johor state

31 May

According to a late report, around 14 robbers armed with knives boarded and attempted to steal cargo from a Mongolia-flagged oil tanker anchored 34 nm east of Mersing, Johor state at 0104 hrs local time. Robbers discovered the tanker was not loaded and proceeded to rob crew's personal belongings, injuring two crew members. Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency forces reported that they had apprehended all assailants armed with knives and machetes.

PGI Analysis: Hijacking vessels to steal oil and marine fuel was common between 2014-2015, with many major attacks reported off Malaysia's southeast coast. Attacks continue to be sporadically reported in the region although incidents have declined significantly since 2016. The incident on 31 May underscores the continued threat to vessels by criminal groups in the area, particularly when in the more vulnerable position of being anchored further out at sea.

West Africa 

Ghana: Robbers board supply vessel at Takoradi Anchorage

13 June

Robbers boarded a supply vessel at Takoradi Anchorage at 0345 hrs local time. Crew shouted at robbers and raised the alarm, prompting them to flee.

PGI Analysis: Ghana has seen a significant uptick in reports of attacks in 2018, both near Takoradi port and further out at sea. In recent months, pirates in the region appear to have increased their area of operation from largely targeting waters off Nigeria to include waters off Benin, Togo and Ghana, raising concerns that the risk to vessels is increasing in the wider region.

Nigeria: Robbers attempt to steal tanker's cargo at Lagos

9 June

According to a late report, robbers succeeded in inserting a hose into a tanker's cargo tank at Apapa, Lagos. Crew sighted the assailant, prompting him to flee in a speedboat where six or seven others were waiting.

PGI Analysis: Theft, robberies and unauthorised boardings are regularly reported at Lagos port complex and outside the Secure Anchorage Area where security is considerably weaker, underscoring the need for vigilance at all times. Assailants are often armed and have been known to use force to intimidate crew into giving in to their demands.

Select Maritime News

China: Beijing conducts missile drills in South China Sea

15 June

China's navy has carried out missile exercises in the South China Sea to simulate repelling an aerial attack, according to China's state media. The drills were held in an unspecified area of the South China Sea using three target drones making flyovers of a ship formation at varying heights. The incident comes after a US Navy destroyer sailed through the waters claimed by China in May, a few days after the US withdrew an invitation to China for a US-hosted naval drill. The US and China have had frequent disputes over which country is militarising the South China Sea.

Indonesia: Ferry accident leaves one dead, tens missing in North Sumatra

18 June

A passenger ferry containing around 80 passengers capsized in Lake Toba near the Port of Tigaras in North Sumatra province, leaving at least one person dead and tens of passengers missing. The Sinar Bangun ferry sank in rough weather at around 1730 hrs local time, about a mile from the Port of Tigaras. Search and rescue operations were ongoing, after having been hampered by bad weather in the area. Ferry accidents are frequent in Indonesia, especially during the Islamic holiday of Eid when millions make the annual journey by land, sea, and air to their hometowns after the holy month of Ramadan.

Italy: Prime Minister Conte to meet President Macron over migrant row

14 June

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is set to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on 15 June to discuss a diplomatic row over the handling of the SOS-Mediterranée boat carrying 629 migrants. Paris criticised Rome for refusing to harbour the boat, claiming it was violating international law. In response, the Italian government criticised Paris for only accepting 10 percent of the 7,000 migrants it pledged to accept from Italy. The migrant boat was eventually allowed to harbour in Spain on 11 June.

Libya: Clashes halt oil loading at Es Sider, Ras Lanuf ports

14 June

Clashes between armed brigades and forces loyal to the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar caused the major oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider to close. The clashes occurred south of Ras Lanuf, where the LNA was reportedly targeting its opponents with air strikes. The fighting resulted in at least one storage tank at Ras Lanuf terminal being set alight and prompted the evacuation of some National Oil Company personnel. The incident triggered a production loss of 240,000 barrels per day. The incident is the latest in repeated bouts of violence over control of the oil facilities that have hampered efforts to restore national oil output to pre-2011 levels.

Singapore: Police arrest nine suspects for illegal sale of oil

18 June

Police arrested nine men for their suspected involvement in an illegal sale of marine gas oil. The Police Coast Guard acted on a tip-off that a foreign-registered tugboat and a Singapore-registered vessel were involved in the illegal transaction at sea off Selat Puah Anchorage. The Singapore-registered vessel is suspected of misappropriating 400 litres of marine gas oil. The nine suspects could face a maximum 15-year jail sentence and a fine for fraud.

Tunisia: Coast guards intercept five migrants off Monastir

14 June

Coast guards thwarted an illegal immigration attempt off the coast of the central city of Monastir, local media reported. Five would-be migrants - all Tunisian nationals - were arrested in the operation, officials said. Attempts to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe are common in Tunisia, which suffers from high unemployment.

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