Weekly Maritime Security Report

Select Maritime News

China: Beijing foreign waste controls to impact container shipping

29 January

Stricter controls on foreign waste imports could severely impact container shipping to China, reducing the number of TEUs by 4-5 mn, according to shipping consultancy Drewery. In July 2017, China notified the World Trade Organisation that it intended to ban imports of 24 categories of recyclables and solid wastes. The new rules are set to come into force on 1 March.

China: Hong Kong police seize USD 1.3 mn in goods after speedboat chase

23 January

Hong Kong police arrested two men and seized USD 1.3 mn worth of smuggled goods destined for the black market in mainland China after a speedboat chase off Shek O. The chase began when police vessels were alerted to two China-bound speedboats spotted near Ng Fan Chau island. Some 68 boxes of smuggled goods, including mobile phones, cameras, watches, and other electronics, were seized. The smuggling of goods from Hong Kong to China is common.

Egypt: Poor weather closes Alexandria port

25 January

Heavy rainfall led to flooding and disruption across northern Egypt. Authorities closed Alexandria and Dekheila ports due to poor conditions, including high winds. There were also reports of street flooding in multiple areas of the country, including Cairo.

Finland: Dock workers to strike across all ports on 2 February

26 January

Dock workers are set to stage a 24-hour strike at all ports in Finland on 2 February. The action is in protest against government employment policies. The strike will start at 0600 hrs local time on 2 February, lasting until 0600 hrs on 3 February. In addition, the Finnish Seafarers’ Union (FSU) has urged members to take part in a protest in Helsinki’s Senate Square at 1100 hrs on 2 February.

France: Protesting fishermen block entry to Calais Port

25 January

French fishermen blocked entry to the Port of Calais, halting all ship movements. The fishermen were reportedly protesting against “pulse fishing”, a technique that employs electrified nets to stun fish and which is purportedly incurring a financial loss for the fishermen. The British port of Dover was also affected by the protest, with ferry operations suspended. Port of Calais officials were said to be in talks with the fishermen and the blockade was expected to end by 1200 hrs local time. The Port of Calais is a major passenger port and an entry point to Europe for British goods.

India: New Delhi, ASEAN agree to boost maritime ties

25 January

India and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed on 25 January to boost maritime ties, during a meeting in New Delhi. The sides have agreed to establish a mechanism for greater maritime cooperation. India had invited leaders from the 10 ASEAN countries to travel to India for Republic Day on 26 January, making it the biggest ever gathering of foreign leaders at the parade. Indonesia’s Joko Widodo and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte were among those in attendance.

Iran: Tehran claims change in US navy behaviour

29 January

A senior Iranian military official said that US vessels patrolling near Iran had changed their behaviour, leading to a reduction in tensions. Rear Admiral Ali Ozmaei of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said US vessels now abided by international regulations in the Persian/Arabian Gulf. Days earlier, US military officials said that the Iranian military had ceased their regular “harassment” of American naval vessels. In recent years, US and Iranian military ships have engaged in repeated hostile interactions in the region, raising fears of an unintended escalation of hostilities.

Japan: Tokyo reports North Korean tanker spotted in East China Sea

23 January

Japan’s foreign ministry reported to the UN that a North Korean oil tanker was spotted in the East China Sea transferring goods from another tanker in violation of UN sanctions. The North Korea-flagged Rye Song Gang 1 tanker – blacklisted by the UN in December – was spotted tied up to the Dominican-flagged Yuk Tang tanker, with some kind of activity taking place, according to a statement. It remains unclear what goods were being transferred. The report comes amid frequent instances of cargo ships violating UN sanctions by continuing to trade covertly with North Korea in banned goods such as petroleum.

Nigeria: Maritime workers threaten general strike at ports from 6 February

29 January

The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) threatened to launch an indefinite general strike at all seaports from 6 February. The union demanded immediate action to improve road conditions leading to and from ports, notably the Oshodi-Apapa Road leading to Apapa and Tin-Can ports in Lagos state. The government has not yet commented on the threatened strike. Apapa port receives at least USD 2.7 mn in customs revenue daily, local media sources reported.

Senegal: Hundreds protest, loot shops in Saint-Louis

28 January

Hundreds of people protested and looted shops owned by Mauritanians in Saint-Louis. Police used tear gas to disperse protesters, who threw rocks and burning wood at the officers. The protests came after Mauritanian maritime security forces killed a Senegalese fisherman in their territorial waters for allegedly fishing without a license. The government dispatched a delegation to Saint-Louis to address the issue. There is no fishing agreement between Mauritania and Senegal, whose diplomatic relations have historically been tense.

Turkey: Coast guard blocks Greek defence minister from disputed Aegean islets

28 January

The Turkish coast guard blocked the Greek defence minister from approaching a pair of disputed islets in the Aegean Sea at 1130 hrs local time, Hurriyet daily reported, citing the Turkish interior ministry and the general staff. The minister had been travelling to the Imia/Kardak islets in an assault boat to lay a wreath there for three Greek soldiers who had died during the 1996 Kardak crisis. The Greek boat reportedly left Turkish territorial waters without incident. The islets have been the subject of a decades-long dispute that in 1996 brought the two countries close to war.


Cameroon: Suspected robber boards merchant vessel in Douala port

21 January

According to a late report, a suspected robber boarded a merchant vessel berthed at Douala port at 0200 hrs local time. The officer of the watch reportedly spotted the intruder, raised the alarm and sought assistance from local naval personnel. The intruder then jumped overboard and escaped in a boat. Nothing was reported stolen.

Guinea: Suspected robbers attempt to board vessel in Conakry port

23 January

Two suspected robbers attempted to board a merchant vessel in Conakry Port Terminal at 0530 hrs local time. They reportedly attempted to climb up the ship’s astern line while another was spotted climbing a rope. They swam away when the crew spotted them.

PGI Analysis: Petty thefts are intermittently reported off Douala and Conakry, although many incidents are likely to go unreported. Both ports have improved security provisions in recent years, particularly in Guinea where violent armed robberies used to be a regular occurrence.

Nigeria: Naval guards repel attack on tanker off Brass

24 January

An unspecified number of pirates attacked an underway tanker at 0900 hrs local time, 50 nm south of Brass, Bayelsa state. Embarked naval security personnel reportedly repelled the attack. There were no reports of casualties or damage from the incident.

PGI Analysis: Pirate attacks are common off the coast of the Niger Delta, where multiple armed groups regularly stage kidnap for ransom attacks at sea. Attacks typically occur between 20-100 nm off the coast, although attacks have been reported further out sea.

Nigeria: Suspected robber attempts to board vessel at Lagos anchorage

27 January

A suspected robber attempted to board a merchant vessel at 0101 hrs local time in Lagos anchorage. Crew raised the alarm and contacted a security vessel, and the attacker fled as a result. Nothing was reported stolen. The vessel and its crew were reported to be safe.

PGI Analysis: There has been a significant increase in the number of robberies reported at Lagos anchorage in recent weeks, although it is unclear if the rise is due to improved reporting procedures. Anecdotal reports indicate petty thefts are common at the port and there have been instances of more complex criminal operations such as oil siphoning. 

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