Proven Expertise

Weekly Maritime Security Report 31 July 2019

Southeast Asia

Indonesia: Armed robbers steal engine spares from tanker at Lubuk Gaung

28 July

Four armed robbers boarded a berthed tanker during cargo operations at 0355 hrs local time at SDS Terminal at Lubuk Gaung port. The crew noticed the robbers near the engine room and raised the alarm. Upon hearing the alarm and seeing the alert crew, the robbers escaped through the steering gear room. A search was carried out and it was reported that engine spares were stolen. The incident was reported to the Port Control.

Vietnam: Robber boards cargo ship at Lotus Port

25 July

A duty officer on routine rounds onboard a berthed general cargo ship at Lotus Port noticed an unauthorised person on deck throwing items over the ship's side at 1940 hrs local time. The officer noticed two boats collecting the items and raised the alarm. Seeing the approaching officer, the unauthorised person escaped. Upon checking, it was found that the padlock of the forward store was broken. The incident was reported to the local authorities.

PGI Analysis: Robbers often target vessels at anchorages across Southeast Asia, particularly overnight and in the early hours of the morning to take advantage of low visibility. There is the potential for incidents to turn violent as robbers are often armed, although they typically only use force when confronted by crew.

Select Maritime News

Australia: Canberra ratifies maritime boundaries with East Timor

29 July

Australia passed legislation that sets down maritime boundaries with East Timor, providing a framework for the two countries to share the revenue from the Greater Sunrise offshore gas fields. East Timor's foreign minister said the country could ratify the treaty on 30 August. Under the deal, East Timor is entitled to 70 percent of the revenue if the gas is piped to the island or 80 percent if the gas is piped to Australia for processing. Both sides signed the historic treaty in March 2018 to resolve a decade-long dispute over the Timor Sea border, which had delayed the development of the Greater Sunrise.

Brazil: Authorities seize 116 kg of cocaine at Salvador port

24 July

Authorities seized 116 kg of cocaine hidden among a cargo of wood aboard a vessel docked at Salvador port. Authorities said the ship had transited through Paranagua and Santos ports. Both ports are major shipment and transhipment points for narcotics. The drugs were bound for Sines port in Portugal.

Iran: UK naval vessel arrives in Gulf

28 July

The UK destroyer HMS Duncan arrived in the Gulf to protect UK-flagged vessels transiting the Strait of Hormuz following the Iranian seizure of the UK-flagged Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz on 19 July. It joins frigate HMS Montrose, which has accompanied 35 vessels through the Strait, the defence ministry said. The move comes after the UK seizure of an Iranian vessel suspected of breaching sanctions on Syria off Gibraltar on 4 July prompted Tehran to threaten to seize UK vessels.

Iran: London rejects suggestion of tanker swap

29 July

The UK foreign secretary rejected any suggestion that it would release Iranian tanker Grace I, seized by UK forces off Gibraltar on 4 July for allegedly planning to violate sanctions on Syria, in exchange for the release of a UK-flagged vessel by Iran. The foreign secretary said that the Grace I was being held due to international law and would not be part of any barter. In apparent retaliation, Iranian forces seized the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz on 19 July for allegedly breaching maritime rules.

Libya: Authorities seize Italian fishing vessel

23 July

A Libyan coastguard vessel seized an Italian fishing vessel, reported the Italian Foreign Ministry. Rome confirmed that the vessel had been detained in an area Italy had warned fishermen not to enter. The precise location of the incident was not immediately available. The coastguard reportedly escorted the vessel to Misrata port, suggesting it has been detained by forces loyal to the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Libya: Coastguard rescues 38 migrants off Qarabulli

23 July

A coastguard patrol boat rescued 38 migrants at approximately 0200 hrs local time after their vessel broke down off the north-eastern town of Qarabulli. The 38 migrants were taken back to Libyan territory and detained. Libyan coastguard patrols regularly rescue migrants after their vessels break down or sink.

Libya: Shipwreck kills 150 migrants east of Tripoli

25 July

UN refugee agency UNHCR has reported that up to 150 people are feared dead in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya, while another 150 have been rescued and are being returned to Libya. The ship left from Al Khoms, a town 120 kilometres east of Tripoli. Libya is a hub for migrants, many of whom try to reach Europe in unseaworthy boats.

Morocco: Madrid unlocks USD 33 mn of funding for Moroccan immigration support

19 July

Madrid voted to unlock USD 33 mn of funding for Morocco to use in its fight against illegal immigration. The funding will be used to maintain land and sea patrols across the north of the country. Some 56,000 migrants illegally crossed the Mediterranean from Morocco to Spain in 2018.

Panama: Authorities seize 4 tonnes of cocaine in Colon

27 July

Authorities seized nearly 4 tonnes of cocaine after intercepting a speedboat via air and sea along the northern perimeter of Isla Grande in the province of Colon. The seizure occurred during a regular patrol. Large-scale drug seizures are frequently reported in Panama.

Panama: Authorities seize 4,000 cocaine bricks off coast

26 July

Authorities seized approximately 4,000 cocaine bricks from a boat off the coast of Panama. Police did not disclose a precise location for the drug seizure. Four Colombian nationals were arrested at the scene. Large-scale drug seizures are frequently reported in Panama.

South Korea: Seoul repatriates three North Korean fishermen

29 July

Seoul's Unification ministry said authorities had sent three North Koreans who crossed the maritime border in a fishing boat back after they said they wanted to return to North Korea. The North Koreans on the vessel said during questioning they had gone off course by mistake. North Korean fishing boats often breach the inter-Korean maritime frontier or go adrift towards South Korea. On 28 July, Pyongyang released a Russian fishing boat and 15 Russian and two South Korean crew members who were held after being accused of violating entry regulations.

UEA: Customs seize 800,000 captagon pills

26 July

Dubai customs announced the seizure of 800,000 amphetamine-type stimulant captagon pills at the port of Jebel Ali. The drugs were found in the fuel tank of a boat shipment arriving to the port. The vessel was flagged as high-risk after it arrived from an unnamed Arab country. The UAE is a major hub for smuggling and large-scale drug seizures are reported regularly in the country.

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