Weekly Maritime Security Report

East Africa and Indian Ocean

Yemen: Pro-government forces dismantle sea mines near Midi

18 September

Local media reported Yemeni forces dismantled a naval mine network 16 km off the coast of Midi, Hajjah governorate. The mines were reportedly planted by Houthi-Saleh forces near Ghorab island.

PGI Analysis: 

The threat to commercial vessels transiting the waters off Yemen has increased significantly since the onset of the conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels in 2015. US forces have repeatedly warned of the threat from Houthi sea mines off Yemen, which can become dislodged and drift into sea lanes, underscoring the range of threats the conflict poses to shipping in the area. In addition to the introduction of sea mines off Yemen, the civil conflict has seen armed attackers fire rocket-propelled grenades at commercial vessels and an increase in suspicious activity in the area.

 

Southeast Asia 

Indonesia: Robbers board bulk carrier off Samarinda

11 September

A bulk carrier reported that duty crew noticed two mooring ropes had gone missing and that the forecastle hatch was opened during cargo operations at Muara Berau Anchorage off Samarinda at 0330 hrs local time.

 

PGI Analysis: 

Petty thefts are common at anchorages around Samarinda, and although most incidents are non-violent, some incidents in the area have seen robbers take crew members hostage while they rob ships’ stores. The reports underscore the need for continued vigilance when at anchorage off Indonesia, particularly at night when robbers take advantage of poor visibility.

 

West Africa

Guinea: Armed robbers damage vessel south of Conakry

15 September

Robbers armed with knives and crowbars boarded a merchant vessel 6 nm south of Conakry, breaking some windows and damaging property. An alert was sent over VHF channel 16, prompting Conakry’s maritime operations centre to contact the vessel which confirmed the incident.

PGI Analysis:

The report comes days after a robbery and kidnap attempt targeting a vessel at Conakry anchorage on 8 September. It is possible that the same group was behind both incidents given the similar weapons and methods used in both attacks. Robberies are often violent off Guinea and crew should be prepared for armed attacks at anchorages in the region.

Nigeria: Pirates kidnap five crew near Parrot Island

18 September

A mother vessel reported it was attacked and boarded near Parrot Island, Calabar. Four speed boats attacked the vessel and five crew were reportedly abducted. No further details were provided.

Nigeria: Security team fires warning shots at speed boat off Niger Delta

14 September

A supply vessel reported that its security team was forced to fire warning shots at a suspicious speedboat as it headed towards their vessel, 9 nm southwest of Bonny Island off the Niger Delta at 1435 hrs local time. The speedboat had hidden behind a trawler before altering its course towards the vessel.

PGI Analysis:
Pirates often conduct or attempt to conduct violent kidnap for ransom attacks in the waters off Nigeria. The majority of attacks cluster off the restive Niger Delta, which has a decades-long history of insurgent and organised criminal groups that often use kidnap for ransom attacks both on land and at sea for financial gain.

Select Maritime News

Bangladesh: Courts target boat operators exploiting Rohingya crisis in Cox’s Bazaar

14 September

Bangladeshi courts in Cox’s Bazaar are starting to target boat operators exploiting Rohingya refugees who are fleeing across the Naf River from Myanmar’s Rakhine State. According to Bangladeshi officials speaking to the AFP, the boat operators are charging up to USD 100 for ferry trips from Myanmar to Bangladesh that usually cost USD 0.50. Almost 400,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since 25 August amid a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar Army which has left hundreds dead. The Bangladeshi authorities are opening mobile courts to start punishing the boat operators with up to six months in prison. Some 165 people have already been convicted, 160 of whom have been jailed for three to six months. Tens of thousands of Rohingya are reportedly stranded in the Naf River between the countries as the Bangladeshi border forces attempt to stop the inflow.

Equatorial Guinea: European states violate fishery policy

12 September

According to a report by Oceana, the international advocacy organisation for ocean conservation, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain violated the laws of the European Common Fisheries Policy by awarding private fishing authorisations to vessels off the coast of the Gambia and Equatorial Guinea. EU vessels are not allowed to operate under private national agreements where there are active fishing partnerships with other nations. The Gambia and Equatorial Guinea have no guiding protocol although they have ‘dormant’ agreements with several countries.

Libya: Navy seizes Albanian cargo vessel off Zawiya

17 September

The Libyan Coastguard seized an Albanian-owned, Panama-registered cargo vessel on suspicion of smuggling construction materials out of the country. The authorities intercepted the ENVI 1 off the coast of Zawiya, detaining eight crew. The Albanian ambassador in Egypt told the media that the vessel had been brought to Tripoli and that the Albanian Foreign Ministry was closely following the situation.

Libya: Maritime forces intercept more than 1,000 migrants

16 September

Libyan coastguard vessels intercepted 1,074 migrants aboard eight inflatable boats in a single day of operations off the coast of Zawiya, coastguard spokesman Ayoub Qassem said. The migrants were from Arab and Sub-Saharan African countries and departed from Sabratha and the nearby Talil and Wadi area. They were brought back to Zawya and handed over to the Immigration Control Agency, local media reported. There has been a sharp reduction in migrant arrivals from Libya to Italy, which has been attributed to armed groups blocking departures in the smuggling hubs of Sabratha and Zawiya.

Singapore: Collision between oil tanker, dredger kills two

13 September

Indonesian oil tanker Kartika Segara collided with a dredger about 1.7 nm from Sisters’ Island at 0024 hrs local time. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said the dredger was left partially submerged, and seven of its crew were rescued. Two others were declared dead, and three remain missing. The tanker’s starboard bow was reportedly damaged, although no oil spill was reported. The dredger was transiting in a westbound shipping lane as it was entering Singapore, while the tanker was joining an eastbound lane to depart when they collided, according to the Associated Press. An investigation into the cause of the accident is underway.

Taiwan: Taipei cancels flights, warns ships ahead of possible ‘super typhoon’

13 September

Taiwan issued a maritime warning and airlines cancelled some flights as Typhoon Talim approaches, with weather authorities warning that the storm could become a ‘super typhoon’ before moving towards China. China Airlines and EVA Airways, Taiwan’s two largest carriers, said they would cancel some inbound and outbound international flights scheduled for 13 September, Reuters reported. The typhoon is expected to hit Taiwan’s northern cities, including New Taipei, bringing heavy rains and maximum sustained wind speeds of 137 km per hour and gusts of up to 173 kph. The storm is then expected to hit Zhejiang and Fujian provinces on the Chinese mainland. Typhoons are common in Taiwan and China during August and September.

The Gambia: Banjul in talks with private firms for maritime policing

14 September

The Gambia is negotiating with three private companies to provide surveillance of its rich territorial waters in a bid to crack down on widespread illegal fishing, Reuters quoted Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources Bamba Banja as saying. Banja added that the government was in talks with Dutch shipbuilding group Damen and two other companies from the US and South Africa. The US firm is to provide aerial surveillance while Damen and the South African company will provide patrol boats. The names of the two other companies are expected to be announced once the talks are completed in November, and operations are to begin in January 2018.

Tunisia: Police dismantle drug trafficking network

17 September

The police dismantled a drug trafficking network based in the northeastern coastal town of Hammam Sousse. Three individuals were also arrested in the operation, the ministry of interior said in a statement. The police seized 4,500 ecstasy pills worth an estimated USD 130,000 and a motorcycle. The suspects told the police that the drugs were smuggled from an unspecified European country through the Tunisian port of La Goulette.

Tunisia: Navy intercepts two foreign vessels for illegal fishing

16 September

The navy seized two trawlers, one Italian and the other Egyptian, for illegal fishing off the coast of Sfax. Both vessels have been taken to Sfax pending legal proceedings, the defence ministry said.

 

Tunisia: Fishermen block maritime traffic in Kerkennah

15 September

Fishermen blocked the main port of Kerkennah Island off the east coast of Tunisia, preventing ferries linking the islands to the mainland from docking. Local media reported that the fishermen decided to protest after they were prevented from fishing illegally by the navy.