Proven Expertise

Weekly Maritime Security Report 24 April 2018

South East Asia 

Indonesia: Robbers steal ship's properties at Samarinda

19 April

Crew on board a bulk carrier anchored at Muara Berau Anchorage off Samarinda discovered that ship's stores had been stolen from the forecastle during rounds at 0600 hrs local time. The forecastle padlock had been broken and the robbers are thought to have escaped via the anchor chain.

PGI Analysis: Robberies are frequently reported at anchorages off Samarinda. Robberies typically occur overnight or in the early hours of the morning when robbers look to take advantage of reduced patrols and lowered visibility, underscoring the need for crew vigilance at all times while at anchor in the area.

West Africa 

Nigeria: Pirates kidnap 12 crew from cargo ship off Bonny Island

21 April

Pirates attacked an Antigua and Barbuda-flagged general cargo ship underway 50 nm south of Bonny Island, and kidnapped 12 of the 14 crew on board the vessel in the early hours of 21 April. The remaining two crew were reported as safe and moved the ship to a safe position.

PGI Analysis: Pirates frequently target vessels in kidnap for ransom attacks off the Niger Delta, and several such incidents are often reported each week. The vessel which came under attack, the FWN Rapide, belonged to Dutch ship owner ForestWave Navigation, who are yet to comment on the status of the abductees although said they were working with authorities to secure their release. Pirates in the region often deliberately target crew working for a foreign shipping company as they are thought to solicit higher ransoms than local crew.

Select Maritime News

Australia: Canberra says frigates "challenged" by Beijing

20 April

Three Australian warships were challenged by the Chinese military as they travelled through the disputed South China Sea earlier in April, the Australian Broadcasting Corp reported. ABC News cited defence sources as saying that HMAS Anzac, HMAS Toowoomba and HMAS Success were challenged by the PLA Navy as they were transiting towards Vietnam for a three-day goodwill visit in Ho Chi Minh City. It is not clear what occurred during the encounter, although one defence official said the exchanges were "polite but robust". Following the report, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reiterated that Australia has the right to navigate freely in the South China Sea, much of which is claimed by Beijing. China's territorial claims are disputed by several countries in the region. China's defence ministry said that the navy's actions were lawful, professional and safe.

Bangladesh: Armed robber boards vessel at Chittagong Anchorage

18 April

A robber armed with a knife managed to board a general cargo vessel at Chittagong Anchorage at 0115 hrs local time. The robber arrived alongside five other assailants in a black boat, prompting crew to sound the alarm, and prompting the robber on board the vessel to flee without stealing anything. Robberies targeting vessels at Chittagong Anchorage are regularly reported.

China: Dragon boats capsize killing 17 near Guilin

22 April

Two dragon boats capsized on a stretch of river near Guilin city, whilst practising for a race, resulting in 17 people being drowned. Xinhua news agency reported that 57 people went in to the water with 200 rescuers sent to help recover people. The news agency reported that two people had been detained in relation to the incident, with most people on board not wearing life jackets. Dragon boat racing is popular across Asia and the traditional holiday of the dragon Boat Festival begins on 18 June in China.

China: Beijing conducts naval operation east of Bashi Channel

21 April

Chinese naval forces conducted a series of military drills in waters south of Taiwan amid rising tensions with Taipei. Aircraft carrier Liaoning conducted a training operation in waters east of Bashi Channel, while accompanying destroyers carried out offensive and defensive drills. Taipei described the operation as "intimidation". The naval exercise followed a week of heightened tensions as both Chinese and Taiwanese forces conducted a series of live-fire trainings at the shared border.

China: Beijing holds naval drills in Taiwan Strait

18 April

China's navy staged live-fire exercises near Taiwan in what state broadcaster China Central Television said was a warning to advocates of Taiwan's independence. Taiwan's Defence Ministry spokesman, Chen Chung-chi, said the drill was "a regular artillery shooting exercise" and that China was seeking to exaggerate it to intimidate Taiwan. The drill began at 0800 hrs local time and was due to end at midnight, with no further details disclosed.

Congo, DRC: Private boat sinks on Congo River leaving four dead

17 April

A private boat from Ubundu sank on the Congo River at Muchaliko, around 300 km from Kindu, resulting in four of its crew members dying and the loss of several tonnes of goods. Reports suggest the vessel crashed into the wreck of an old boat, causing a huge puncture that ultimately sank it. Authorities blamed the overloading of the boat, unauthorised nocturnal travel and the non-adherence to the marked way on the stretch of river as major factors for the sinking.

Egypt: Ports to run for 24 hours a day to cut waiting times

18 April

Ports are to extend their operating hours from 16 hours a day to 24 in a bid to reduce waiting times for shipments, Transportation Minister Hesham Arafat said. He added that shippers would not incur any additional costs for the extended hours. Arafat did not specify when the new hours would come into effect. The move comes after premiums on grain shipments bound for Egypt soared over the past year due to long delays for vessels.

Greece: Athens leases French warships amid Aegean Sea dispute

20 April

The government is preparing to lease for five years two French FREMM-type navy frigates amid tensions with Turkey over the Aegean Sea. The two frigates, likely to be the Languedoc and the Aquitaine, would boost Athens' maritime military capabilities as it seeks to increase its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles from shore. The lease comes after a series of incidents which have worsened tensions since December 2017. On 12 February, a Turkish patrol boat rammed a Greek coastal guard vessel in disputed waters.

Indonesia: Court orders release of yacht linked to 1MDB scandal

17 April

The South Jakarta State Court ruled that the Cayman Islands-flagged luxury yacht Equanimity was wrongfully impounded in Bali in February at the request of US authorities and ordered the vessel to be released, police said. The yacht was seized after it was believed to be linked to a corruption scandal at Malaysian state fund 1MDB. US authorities had previously said the yacht was bought by Jho Low, a key financier linked to 1MDB. The fund is at the centre of money-laundering probes in at least six countries, including the US, Switzerland and Singapore. An estimated USD 4.5 bn is thought to have been misappropriated from the fund.

Libya: Navy recovers bodies of 11 migrants off Sabratha

22 April

The navy said it recovered the bodies of 11 sub-Saharan migrants who died at sea while attempting to reach the Italian coast, a spokesman said. The bodies were recovered off the coast of northwestern Sabratha city. More than 80 migrants survived the incident and were brought back to the nearby city of Zawiya. In a separate operation on the same day, the navy intercepted 200 migrants off Zliten, a town east of 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.

Tunisia: Coast guards intercept 56 would-be migrants in Bizerte

19 April

Coast guards intercepted 56 would-be migrants in El Alia commune, northern Bizerte Governorate. The would-be migrants had planned to reach the Italian coast. Tunisian naval forces often arrest those attempting to leave the country through illegal routes.

Tunisia: Port workers to strike nationwide from 26-28 April

20 April

The National Union of Port Services called on its members to observe a three-day strike from 26-28 April across all Tunisian ports. The strike has been organised by the union due to perceived inefficiencies in the administrative process overseen by the Ministry of Transport and the Port Authority. The union also criticised the decision of the ministry to "open the door to intruders", most likely meaning foreign workers. Strikes and protests in the public and private sector are a regular occurrence in Tunisia.

Vietnam: Hanoi, Jakarta vow to settle maritime dispute

17 April

Vietnam and Indonesia have pledged to resolve fishing violations in the South China Sea and cooperate on other maritime issues. Both sides also agreed to complete the demarcation of the exclusive economic zone in an effort to boost trade ties. Since 2014, Indonesia has destroyed several hundred fishing vessels, most of them from Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand, for violating its waters. Bilateral trade between the countries stood at USD 6.7 bn in 2017, and both sides have said that they plan to increase it to USD 10 bn in the next few years.

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