Weekly Maritime Security Report

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Philippines: Robbers steal life rafts from container vessel at Manila

4 December

Duty crew found that robbers had stolen immersion suits and life rafts from a container vessel while at Manila Quarantine Anchorage at 0010 hrs local time. The assailants had boarded the vessel via the anchor chain and hawse pipe. Manila’s vessel traffic service and coast guard boarded the ship for inspection.

PGI Analysis: Petty thefts are common at Manila anchorage, although thieves typically steal small items and ship spares, with the latest incident marking one of the largest robberies reported at the anchorage in recent months. Robberies typically occur overnight when visibility is low. Crew should remain vigilant at all times while at anchor in the region.

Select Maritime News

Argentina: Navy says hydrogen accumulation likely behind submarine accident

28 November

The Navy said that an accumulation of hydrogen and a battery short circuit were likely behind an explosion which damaged the ARA San Juan submarine after it went missing on 15 November. According to the military, a water leak in the submarine had damaged the systems which remove hydrogen from the battery area. Civil society and media heavily criticised the military’s handling of the operation and President Mauricio Marci announced that the government would launch an investigation.

Colombia: Authorities seize 14 containers of contraband at Buenaventura

2 December

Customs agents seized 14 containers of contraband shoes and clothing from China at Buenventura port in Valle del Cauca. Authorities made the seizure in cooperation with US officials. Local media reported that there were inconsistencies in the documentation for the cargo, which also tipped off authorities. In 2017, officials have made 486 merchandise apprehensions valued at USD 38 mn.

Gabon: Financial services workers go on indefinite strike, protest at Owendo port

27 November

The Federation of Trade and Financial Services (Fesyrefaa) union embarked on an indefinite strike on 25 November. Workers blocked the entrances to the Port of Owendo on 27 November to demand negotiations with the government. The unlimited strike comes after an eight-day warning strike from 16 November. Fesyrefaa are calling for improved working conditions and the payment of four months of salary arrears.

Ghana: Youths hijack ferry to secure local transport in Eastern Region

29 November

A group of youths in Agordeke in the Afram Plains district of the Eastern Region seized a ferry transporting passengers and vehicles, after authorities closed the Bupei and Yapei bridges for repair on 27 November. They reportedly came aboard the ferry and stole the keys from the captain. The government had ordered the ferry be sent to Yeji to help rescue stranded passengers. The government commandeered another ferry to send to Yeji and summoned parliament over the incident.

India: New Delhi, Singapore boost maritime security cooperation

29 November

India and Singapore have pledged to boost their cooperation in maritime security during a meeting between the two countries’ defence ministers. Singapore’s Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen and India’s Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman issued a joint statement saying they are discussing formalising bilateral military engagements, including through maritime exercises. The two sides also affirmed their commitment to freedom of navigation in international waters, in what is a reference to the ongoing territorial disputes between China and Southeast Asian nations over the South China Sea.

Iran: President inaugurates new Chabahar port extension

4 December 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated a USD 1 bn extension of the southeastern Chabahar port in the Gulf of Oman. Chabahar is Iran’s closest sea link to the Indian Ocean, making it a rival to the neighbouring Pakistani port of Gwadar. The expansion brings the port’s capacity from 2.5 mn tonnes of cargo to 8.5 mn tonnes. The project was constructed by Khatam al-Anbia, a conglomerate owned by the Revolutionary Guard Corps. India has invested USD 235 mn in the port, which allows it to bypass regional rival Pakistan.

Iraq: Security forces seize 80 mn pills at Basra port

30 November

Iraqi authorities seized 80 mn narcotic pills from a container in the southern port of Umm Qasr, Basra province. The suspects’ captagon pills were concealed in small school bags. The shipment reportedly came from India via UAE ports, although further details were not provided. Reports indicated that militias were suspected of employing personnel at ports in Basra to facilitate smuggling. Southern Iraq has faced an increase in drug smuggling since 2013.

Libya: Customs uncover container fraud at Benghazi port

27 November

Port authorities in Benghazi seized 40 containers loaded with under-priced imported goods as part of a USD 8 mn letter of credit fraud scheme. The scheme relies on fake import transactions, whereby fraudsters obtain letters of credit with low exchange rates to import goods, but ship low-value or empty cargo to Libya, pocketing the allocated money. Letter of credit frauds are common in Libya.

Malaysia: Maritime security agency to lead air surveillance coordination

27 November

The deputy prime minister announced that the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) would operate as the lead agency for air surveillance coordination in the maritime area. The appointment was part of the government’s National Blue Ocean Strategy, involving the use of government agencies to improve maritime coordination, including in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone and some areas in Sarawak.

South Korea: Fishing vessel capsizes killing 13 after collision off Incheon

3 December 

A fishing boat capsized killing 13 people after colliding with a refuelling vessel in the waters of Incheon, according to the coast guard. Two people remain missing, as authorities carry out search and rescue operations. The reason for the collision is unclear.

Sri Lanka: Workers occupy building at Hambantota Port

29 November

A group of workers occupied a building at Hambantota Port on 29 November, claiming that their employer, the Magampura Port Management Company, had illegally terminated their contracts. They refused to leave the building until all of the equipment at the port was officially handed over to the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA). Workers continued to occupy the premises over several days and relatives of the port workers were also engaged in a sit-in protest at the port entry road. In an attempt to diffuse the ongoing protest, the SLPA issued a statement on 4 December stating that the workers’ contracts had not been terminated and that the port had been handed over to SLPA ownership.

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