Weekly Maritime Security Report

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Maldives: Security forces seize two fishing vessels, arrest Thai nationals

12 January

Maldivian Defence Minister Adam Shareef announced security forces seized two fishing boats which authorities deemed to be suspected pirate vessels off the coast of the Maldives. The suspects had reportedly hoisted Somalian flags on the boats to falsify their identity and had crossed the Maldivian border without proper authorisation. A total of 21 individuals were apprehended between 12-13 January. All those detained were identified as Thai nationals.

PGI Analysis: Details of the alleged criminal activities the suspects engaged in are yet to be determined, although some reports indicate the vessels were carrying hundreds of tonnes of tuna, indicating they could be involved in illegal fishing. The vessels were also reportedly en route from Somalia to Thailand. Illegal fishing is prevalent in both Somali and Maldivian waters and is a major driver of Somali piracy as disgruntled coastal communities turn to other means to earn money. 



Nigeria: Robbers board vessel off Lagos

9 January

Two robbers boarded an anchored tanker off Lagos at 0005 hrs local time. The robbers had placed a hose into a tank in order to steal cargo. The crew spotted the robbers, causing them to jump overboard without stealing anything. The crew and vessel were reported safe.

Nigeria: Assailants board tanker off Lagos

15 January

Two suspected robbers boarded a tanker off Lagos at 0400 hrs local time. The robbers jumped overboard upon being sighted and nothing was reported stolen. The vessel and crew were both reported safe.

PGI Analysis: Theft, robberies and unauthorised boarding’s are regularly reported at Lagos port complex where security is poor, underscoring the need for vigilance at all times. Although many assailants are easily deterred they are sometimes armed and have been known to use force to intimidate crew. Authorities do not maintain full control over who accesses and exits the port, leaving vessels vulnerable to criminal groups. Corruption among maritime security authorities further undermines security at the port.



Indonesia: Robbers board bulk carrier at Samarinda anchorage

9 January

Robbers attempted to board a bulk carrier via the anchor chain at Muara Berau Anchorage, Samarinda, at 0600 hrs local time. Crew sighted the robbers and sounded the fog horn, prompting them to flee in a small boat. Petty thefts are common at Samarinda anchorage, although most perpetrators are easily deterred.

PGI Analysis: Reports of robberies at Samarinda anchorage have increased in recent weeks, although it is unclear whether this is simply due to improved reporting. Most robberies targeting vessels at anchor in Southeast Asia take place overnight to take advantage of reduced visibility, highlighting the need for vigilance at anchorages in the region.  

Select Maritime News

Bangladesh: Heavy fog disrupts ferry services on Padma River

11 January

Heavy fog disrupted ferry services on the Padma River for eight hours on 11 January. According to local media, services on the Shimulia-Kathalbari and Daulatdia-Paturia routes were suspended from 0230 hrs local time due to low visibility. The ferries only re-started operations at 1030 hrs after the fog cleared. The Shimulia-Kathalbari and Daulatdia-Paturia routes connect the 21 southwestern districts of Dhaka.

China: Iranian tanker sinks after burning for more than one week off Shanghai

14 January

An Iranian oil tanker has finally sunk after burning for more than a week after a collision on 6 January off Shanghai in the East China Sea, according to state media. The tanker suddenly exploded around noon on 14 January, and the ship sank at around 1700 hrs local time despite extensive rescue and firefighting efforts. The Xinhua news agency said that a large amount of oil remains on fire in the waters. Rescue personnel have recovered three bodies of the 32 crew members, most of whom remain missing and are presumed dead. The tanker, owned by National Iranian Tanker Company, was carrying almost 1 mn barrels of light oil and travelling to South Korea when it collided with a grain ship about 160 nm off the coast.

Curacao: Authorities search for shipwrecked Venezuelan migrants

11 January

Police on the island of Curacao said they are searching for a group of 30 illegal migrants after their boat sank while crossing the sea from Venezuela. At least four Venezuelans are confirmed to have died when the overloaded craft hit rocks. The coastguard has reported an increasing number of vessels making the journey from Venezuela amid a deteriorating economic crisis. President Nicolas Maduro cut transport links to Dutch Caribbean territories earlier in January to prevent smuggling.

Greece: Protest halts port operations, Athens’ subway

12 January

Protests and strike action suspended Athens’ subway and brought port operations to a standstill across the country. The coordinated industrial action was organised to denounce a government bill which is due to be approved on 15 January. The bill proposes cuts to family benefits, tightening strike regulations and new rules on foreclosures over overdue loan repayments. The unrest marks the first major protest of 2018 as discontent continues over declining living standards in Greece.

Greece: Authorities seize vessel carrying explosive material to Misrata

10 January

Authorities seized a Tanzania-flagged vessel carrying material used in explosive production en route to Misrata as it passed Crete, arresting eight members of the crew. The vessel contained 29 containers of ammonium nitrate and detonators. The vessel had been loaded at Mersin and İskenderun in Turkey. The EU and the UN have banned the sale and supply of arms to Libya since 2011 amid an ongoing conflict between rival factions.

Iran: Warship crashes at Caspian port

10 January

An Iranian warship crashed into concrete wave breakers in the northern port of Bandar Anzali due to stormy weather conditions, local media reported. Six crew members fell overboard during the incident, with two still reported missing.

Japan: Tokyo tracks Chinese naval vessel near disputed Senkaku islands

11 January

Japan has said it tracked a Chinese naval frigate which entered disputed waters near the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, in what is the first such incursion in more than a year. A 4,000-tonne Chinese Jiankai II class frigate was spotted around 1100 hrs local time near the islands, and there were also reports that a submarine of unknown nationality was also spotted in the area. The last incursion was in June 2016, and both sides had made attempts to improve relations in 2017.

Liberia: Authorities detain trawler for illegal fishing

11 January

The Liberian coast guard detained a Chinese fishing trawler for illegally fishing in Liberia’s waters. Authorities arrested an unspecified number of Chinese officers and Liberian and Sierra Leonean nationals working on the ship. The coast guard detained the trawler with the help of maritime NGO Sea Shepherd. The Chinese trawler could face a fine of up to USD 1 mn, local media sources reported. Illegal fishing is common in Liberia due to poor monitoring and capturing capabilities of the coast guard.

Libya: Misrata council launches investigation into Turkish-loaded explosives ship

14 January

Authorities from the northwestern city of Misrata launched an investigation after Greece seized a ship headed to the city that was carrying materials used to make explosives. Misrata’s local council released a statement denying any knowledge of the ship’s cargo, saying that the vessel was originally bound for Djibouti but sought to change its course to Misrata. The incident sparked concern among Libyan authorities, with the eastern-based Libyan National Army’s command saying that the seizure confirmed Ankara’s “role in supporting terrorism in Libya”. Meanwhile, the foreign minister of the UN-backed Government of National Accord expressed concern over “any attempt to harm” the country. Greek authorities impounded the Tanzanian-flagged vessel that departed from the Turkish port of Mersin on 6 January. On 15 January, Turkey’s embassy in Tripoli announced that it would launch an investigation into the reports, saying that the ship only had permission to transport goods from Turkey to Ethiopia. The shipment goes against 2011 UN and EU sanctions that prohibit the sale, export and transfer of arms to Libya.

Rwanda: Magufuli, Kagame agree to Isaka-Kigali rail line

14 January

Tanzanian President John Magufuli and his Rwandan counterpart President Paul Kagame agreed to jointly finance a 400 km standard gauge railway line between Isaka and Kigali. The line aims to increase connectivity between Rwanda and Dar es Salaam port via connections at Isaka. Both countries have agreed to jointly finance the project and Magufuli said he hoped construction would begin in 2018. Construction of a line between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro in central Tanzania is already underway.

Singapore: Authorities charge three more suspects over oil theft at Shell refinery

13 January

A Singaporean court has charged three more suspects over a large-scale oil theft at a Shell refinery in the city-state, days after 11 other suspects were detained and placed under investigation. Police have seized millions of dollars in cash as well as a small tanker in response to the siphoning of oil from Shell’s Pulau Bukom refinery, which is the company’s largest refinery globally. The suspects are believed to have stolen 4,300 tonnes of gasoil over two days in 2017. Piracy, especially targeting oil assets, is a significant threat in Singapore.

Thailand: Speedboat carrying tourists explodes off Krabi, injuring 16

14 January

A speedboat carrying 26 Chinese tourists exploded off Krabi province on 14 January, injuring 14 tourists and two crew members, according to Xinhua news agency. Five of the Chinese tourists are in serious condition. The accident occurred at around 1230 hrs local time as the King Poseidon 959 speedboat was travelling from Krabi to Phi-Phi island. Authorities have said they will carry out an investigation into the incident.

Venezuela: Six men attempt to board yacht off Paria peninsula

28 December

According to a late report, an open fishing boat with six men approached a monohull yacht at 1000 hrs local time, approximately 3.7 km off the Paria peninsula, and roughly 19 km east of Cabo Tres Puntas. The crew immediately altered course and turned offshore. When the fishing boat approached, the crew fired their flare gun directly at the men, nearly hitting them. The assailants dropped back and made no further approach. The yacht then headed northwest and made safe port at Porlamar, Margarita, where a report was submitted to local officials. Criminals sporadically target civilians on sailing boats in Venezuelan waters.

Yemen: Houthis threaten to block Red Sea shipping lane

9 January

Houthi rebels threatened to block the key Red Sea shipping lane if the Saudi-led coalition continues its advance towards the rebel-controlled port of Hodeidah, the Houthi-run Saba news agency quoted head of the Houthi political council Saleh al-Samad as saying. The Red Sea is a strategic route for oil tankers, allowing them to reach Europe from the Middle East via the Suez Canal. It was not immediately clear how the Houthis would carry out the threat.


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