Proven Expertise

Weekly Maritime Security Report 26 September 2017

Maritime Security Report 

highlights key industry-specific incidents

covered by PGI's team of risk analysts during the past week:

 

Yemen: Merchant vessel reports suspicious skiff in Gulf of Aden

22 September

A merchant vessel reported sighting a suspicious skiff with three armed persons on board south of Ahwar in the Gulf of Aden at 1021 hrs local time. The skiff reportedly did not approach any vessels in the vicinity during the sighting.  

PGI Analysis: 

The Gulf of Aden has seen an uptick in suspicious activity and piracy in recent months following the hijacking of the Aris 13 bunkering tanker in the Socotra Gap in March. The UN is reportedly investigating suspected links between pirate gang leaders and Islamist militant groups al-Shabaab and Islamic State, both of which are active in Somali's northern Puntland region. Many pirates based in former pirate hubs in northern Puntland south of the Gulf of Aden.

 

Vietnam: Robbers steal from bulk carrier at Campha anchorage

20 September

Robbers boarded and stole ship's stores from a bulk carrier anchored at Campha Inner Anchorage between 0000 hrs and 0600 hrs local time. Duty crew raised the alarm when they noticed a padlock on the paint stores had been broken. Local agents reported the incident to the port authority.

PGI Analysis: 

Robberies are common across Southeast Asian anchorages and many reports of such incidents are likely to go unreported. Thieves are often opportunistic and take advantage of low light conditions and reduced duty crew rounds at night at anchorages. Criminals typically steal small goods which are quick and easy to carry rather than committing more complex cargo theft operations at anchorages. 

 

Nigeria: Gunmen kill one, abduct five oil workers in Rivers State

18 September

Five unidentified gunmen attacked a tug and barge boat contracted by Belema Oil and Gas en route from Idamaria to Robertkiri on Bartolomeo River in Rivers State. The gunmen killed one contractor and kidnapped five others, including the master. There were no reports on the identity of the attackers and there were no reports of a ransom demand. 

 PGI Analysis: 

Niger Delta-based pirates regularly conduct kidnap for ransom attacks targeting vessels in the Gulf of Guinea and the Niger Delta. Many incidents go unreported due to shippers' concerns over potential reputational damage and increased operational costs. It is estimated that only around half of all attacks in the region are reported.

 

Cote d'Ivoire: Hundreds protest eviction in Abidjan port

20 September

Hundreds of residents protested evictions in Port-Bouet, south of Abidjan. Armed with sticks, demonstrators blocked the highway linking Abidjan to the coastal city of Grand-Bassam with burning tyres. The protests reportedly disrupted traffic on both sides of the highway. The police arrested four protesters while another was injured by gunfire. The unrest erupted after bulldozers started tearing down houses in the village of Anani in Port-Bouet.

 

China: Coast guard ships sail near disputed islands in East China Sea

25 September

Chinese coast guard ships sailed near disputed islands claimed by both Japan and China in the East China Sea on 25 September, the second such incident in less than a week. Four ships entered the waters surrounding the Senkaku islands around 1000 hrs local time, and were moving in a southwesterly direction, according to the Japanese coast guard. A statement by China's State Oceanic Administration said the four Chinese ships were patrolling Chinese waters. Japan protested the move. The two countries are engaged in a long-running diplomatic dispute over the islands which are believed to hold vast natural resources, and incursions by maritime forces of both countries are common.

 

Ghana: Accra, Yamoussoukro pledge to respect maritime border decision

24 September

Ghanaian and Ivorian authorities issued a joint statement via the Ivorian Television Network (RTI) pledging to respect the maritime border set by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). The governments pledged to "fully cooperate" in the implementation of the ruling. The ITLOS ruled that Ghana did not violate Ivorian sovereignty when extracting hydrocarbons in a disputed offshore zone.

 

India: Fire at Kandla port in Gujarat leaves one dead

24 September

One person was killed and another was injured after a fire broke out late on the night of 24 September in an oil jetty of one of the tankers at Kandla port in the western state of Gujarat. According to local media reports, the fire destroyed the oil tanker which is owned by a private company. The cause of the blaze is yet to be determined, and officials said the fire was brought under control only by the morning of 25 September. It is not clear if there are any disruptions at Kandla port, which lies in a strategic point in western in India and serves as a key transit route.

 

Libya: Boat capsizes off Zuwara, at least 90 migrants missing

24 September

The navy said that a boat with around 120 migrants capsized off the coast near Zuwara. The vessel was found in Sidi Sayeed, 20 km from Zuwara. Around 30 migrants were recovered alive, and at least 90 were reported missing. Human smugglers often put migrants in unseaworthy vessels and capsizes are common.

 

Malaysia: Court jails Indonesian pirates for foiled hijacking of tanker

21 September

A Malaysian court has sentenced eight Indonesian pirates to 16 years in jail for the foiled hijacking attempt against an oil tanker on 7 September. The pirates had tried to hijack the Thai-flagged tanker off the coast of Terengganu State as it was transporting USD 1.7 mn worth of diesel. The pirates succeeded in boarding the ship, but Malaysian Coast Guard responded to a distress signal and arrested the pirates. Malaysian and Indonesian waters see high levels of maritime piracy.

 

Myanmar: Buddhist protesters throw petrol bombs to block aid shipment at Rakhine

21 September

Hundreds of hardline Buddhist protesters threw petrol bombs to block a shipment of aid which had arrived in Rakhine State to help the Rohingya Muslim minority, which has suffered a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar Army since August. The protesters, some of whom carried sticks and metal bars, attempted to stop Red Cross workers from loading a boat with relief supplies at a dock in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, according to a government official. Some 200 police dispersed the crowd by shooting into the air. Some people were injured in the clash, and eight were detained. The aid shipment was bound for northern Rakhine State where tens of thousands of Rohingya are believed to be stranded in the Naf River between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Hundreds of people have been killed since 25 August, and more than 400,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh.

 

Nigeria: Authorities arrest individuals for illegally diverting diesel

20 September

The Nigerian navy arrested 16 Nigerians and six Bangladeshi nationals for diverting diesel in an illegal ship-to-ship transfer in the Calabar water channel. The individuals allegedly diverted 22 tonnes of diesel and were transporting it from Lomé to Calabar when it was intercepted by the navy. A spokesperson said the suspects were handed over to police for prosecution.

 

North Korea: Pyongyang threatens hydrogen bomb test in Pacific 

22 September

North Korea may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean, according to the country's foreign minister, when asked about how Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un may respond to US President Donald Trump's warning that Washington could "totally destroy North Korea". The minister said that Pyongyang is considering a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific of an unprecedented scale, which follows the country's first test of alleged hydrogen bomb on 3 September. An unprecedented series of missile tests and recent nuclear threats have sharply raised tensions with South Korea, China, Japan, and the US. The situation with North Korea is currently at its highest crisis level since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

 

Panama: AMP, ACP to optimise maritime transport with new system

22 September

The Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced they would launch a new transport system to increase optimisation in the maritime transport industry. The Panama Maritime Single Window System (VUMPA) simplify international maritime transactions and increase electronic information sharing. Vessels will be required to provide information electronically via the VUMPA to allow the government to conduct a risk assessment prior to the vessel's arrival. The new system is expected to cut costs as the assessment outcome will automatically be shared with both the AMP and the ACP. VUMPA is set to be operational from 24 September.

 

Philippines: Coast guard chase of Vietnamese fishing boats leaves two dead off Pangasinan

25 September

Two Vietnamese fishermen were killed after a chase by a Philippine patrol vessel against Vietnamese fishing boats led to a collision at sea off the coast of Pangasinan province. The patrol ship pursued six Vietnamese fishing vessels about 30 nm off the northern town of Bolinao, and the deaths were believed to be caused when one of the Vietnamese boats crashed into the Philippine vessel. Five of the fishermen were arrested following the incident and face poaching charges as they were illegally fishing in Philippine waters.

 

Philippines: MoU proposes rail link from Manila to Batangas port

20 September

The local government of Batangas has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a unit of the Manila Electric company called MRail to build a railway link between the two cities. The project, which was initially intended to connect Manila and Laguna, may now also be extended to Batangas port, where Asian Terminals Inc Batangas Container Terminal is located. If realised, the plan will see all major ports in Luzon connected by rail, improving traffic flow and facilitating containerised cargo movement.

 

Somalia: Puntland authorities seize boat carrying weapons from Yemen

23 September

Local authorities in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region seized a boat laden with weapons from Yemen, according to the regional maritime police chief. Puntland's police displayed tens of anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, AK-47 rifles and boxes of ammunition confiscated from the small vessel, called Al Faruq, which had been tracked from Yemen by European maritime police. Local police also said they had seized other boatloads of weapons destined for Islamic State (IS) and al-Shabaab militants in Somalia. Puntland has seen heavy fighting in recent months due to frequent attacks from al-Shabaab and local IS-affiliated fighters against government troops.

 

Thailand: Thousands of fishermen protest in Samut Songkhram against EU rules

21 September

Thousands of Thai fishermen and business operators in Samut Songkhram province held a protest against EU rules on illegal fishing. The 3,000 protesters clad in black marched at a fishing market in Muang district early to demand the military government review the measures introduced over the last two years. One of the organisers told local media that he would be willing to accept an EU ban on Thai marine imports if it means the fishermen can return to their previous operations. He claimed that more than 1,000 fishermen had been bankrupted and that most others had seen large drops in incomes. The regulations include a ban on destructive fishing gear, creation of a Vessel Monitoring System, and stepped up enforcement against illegal fishing.

 

Turkey: Refugee boat sinks off Kocaeli cost, killing 15

22 September

At least 15 people drowned when a fishing boat carrying refugees sank off the coast of Turkey's Kocaeli province shortly after issuing a distress signal. Some 15 others remain missing, while the Turkish coast guard has also rescued 40 of the refugees. Local media said that the refugees had been taken to a hospital in Kocaeli, though the origin and intended destination of the refugee boat remain unclear. Turkey has been one of the main channels for a major refugee crisis caused by conflicts in the Middle East and Africa in recent years.

 

Venezuela: Pirates steal from carrier at Puerto Jose

22 September

The duty officer onboard an anchored bulk carrier raised the alarm when the duty able seaman did not respond to a call at Puerto Jose anchorage. Crew mustered and carried out a search for the able seaman, who was found tied up on the forecastle. Upon hearing the alarm and seeing the alerted crew, an unspecified number of robbers were seen escaping. A large quantity of the ship's stores was reported stolen.

 

Venezuela: Shippers divert oil cargoes as Hurricane Maria disrupts oil flows

18 September

Several shipments of oil have been shifted away from Venezuela to other nearby countries as suppliers fear state oil firm PDVSA will not be able to pay for the cargoes in time. Hurricane Maria, which hit the Leeward Islands on 18 September, was causing shippers to move cargoes to ports where they can discharge before the storm makes landfall. Disruption resulting from the hurricane is expected to limit oil supplies to Latin American and Caribbean countries.

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