Weekly Maritime Security Report

East Africa and the Indian Ocean 

Yemen: Houthis reportedly attack coalition warship at Mokha

12 August


The Houthi-controlled news agency SABA has claimed that the Houthi naval forces targeted and hit a warship belonging to the Saudi-led coalition while it was anchored at Mokha port, on the Red Sea. However, a coalition spokesperson has denied the report, instead claiming that the Houthis had attempted to attack Mokha port in the early hours of 12 August using a remote-controlled boat packed with explosives. The coalition forces reportedly detected the boat 5 km off the coast and intercepted it to divert it from its initial trajectory. Few other details have been provided.


PGI Analysis:

The reports increase concerns over the safety of shipping in the narrow Bab al-Mandeb waterway at the entrance to the Red Sea, a chokepoint on a key international shipping lane. Although Houthis typically target vessels linked to the Saudi-led coalition, merchant vessels have been repeatedly approached and in some cases fired at by both small weapons and rocket-propelled grenades over the past year. The incidents indicate commercial vessels could suffer collateral damage due to perceived links to the coalition, or in cases of mistaken identity. 


Yemen: Skiffs approach merchant vessel off Mokha

10 August


A merchant vessel reported sighting seven skiffs 16 nm southwest of Mokha in the southern Red Sea at 1850 hrs local time. Two skiffs came within one cable of the vessel before falling back. The vessel and crew were both reported as safe.


PGI Analysis

The report marks the latest suspicious approach in the southern Red Sea amid an uptick in pirate-related activity in the region in recent months, particularly since the hijacking of the Aris 13 bunkering tanker off northern Somalia in March. It remains unclear whether the merchant vessel had an armed security team on board, although other commercial vessels have reported an exchange of fire between gunmen on board skiffs and their embarked security team, as well as sighting ladders on board approaching skiffs, indicating the intent to hijack vessels.


Southeast Asia 

Philippines: Robbers steal ship’s stores at Manila Anchorage

10 August


Robbers boarded a Liberia-flagged container ship anchored at Manila Anchorage at 0100 hrs local time. Crew sighted the robbers after they entered the forecastle store and raised the alarm, prompting them to flee with stolen ship’s stores.


PGI Analysis:

While petty thefts are often reported at anchorages in Southeast Asia, reports of such incidents at Manila Anchorage have been rare since 2015, although some incidents are likely to have gone unreported. Robberies targeting anchored vessels are more common overnight when petty criminals seek to take advantage of poor visibility. 


Select Maritime News


The following is a selection of other maritime-relevant incidents available on PGI’s Risk Portal:

China: Beijing protests US “freedom of navigation” operation in South China Sea

Colombia: Police seize 1,054 kg of cocaine at Buenventura

Guinea: Transporters block container terminal in Conakry

Indonesia: Workers end Jakarta port strike citing national interest

Italy: Far-right vessel refuses help from migrant rescue group

Libya: NGO accuses navy of firing warning shots

Libya: MSF suspends migrant rescues in Mediterranean amid threats from Libyan coast guard

Philippines: Manila claims Beijing wants non-legally binding South China Sea code

Spain: Migrant arrivals triple in 2017 year-on-year

Sri Lanka: Navy arrests some 50 Indian fishermen on suspicion of poaching

Vietnam: Oil drilling ship leaves disputed waters after Chinese condemnation

Vietnam: Hanoi, Beijing cancel meeting over South China Sea amid tensions