East Africa and the Indian Ocean
Yemen: Gunmen approach vessel 50 nm off Hodeidah
A merchant vessel reported that it was approached by one dark-hulled skiff 50 nm west of Hodeidah at 1711 hrs local time. Weapons were sighted on board the skiff, which had eight persons on board and came within 3 cables of the vessel. The skiff moved further south away from the vessel, which was reported to be safe.
PGI Analysis: The incident comes amid an increase in reports of suspicious approaches off the Yemeni coast since March, when the Aris 13 bunkering tanker was hijacked in the Socotra Gap. This approach took place unusually far north in the Red Sea however, as such incidents are typically reported further south in the Bab el Mandeb and Gulf of Aden. The location of the approach indicates armed groups in the region, whether criminal or militant-linked, may be expanding their area of operation. The motive behind the approach remains unclear however, as there have been some reports of attacks in the Bab el Mandeb in recent months where it appears the perpetrators’ aim was to damage to commercial vessels, as was the case in the rocket-propelled grenade attack in the strait on 31 May. Such incidents raise questions over whether the attackers in the area are linked to Somali pirates or a militant group fighting the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemeni conflict.
Malaysia: Armed pirates steal 1.5 mn litres of diesel fuel from Thai tanker off Kuantan
Six pirates armed with guns and knives boarded Thai oil tanker CP41 off Malaysia’s Kuantan at 2100 hrs local time, local media reported. The attackers, who reportedly spoke Bahasa, captured the captain and rounded up 16 crew members of the deck. They then destroyed the ship’s security alert system before fleeing with 1.5 mn litres of diesel fuel and robbing the captain and crew of their valuables. The captain and crew were reportedly safe and the vessel, which had departed from Singapore, subsequently reached the southern Thai province of Songkhla. The ship was transporting about 3 mn litres of diesel oil from Malaysia to Songkhla. C&P; Group, owner and manager of the vessel, is investigating the incident in cooperation with six agencies.
PGI Analysis: Hijackings of vessels for oil cargo or fuel theft have declined significantly in Southeast Asia since mid-2015, with the report marking the first major incident of its kind since the hijacking of the MT Joaquim oil tanker off Port Dickinson in August 2015. The decline was largely attributed to a major regional law enforcement operation that broke up the main rings behind the hijackings, which were concentrated in the Malacca Strait. PGI will continue to monitor the situation via the Risk Portal.
Select Maritime News
The following is a selection of other maritime-relevant incidents available on PGI’s Risk Portal: