Weekly Maritime Security Report

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China: Robbers attempt to board vessel at Caofeidian Anchorage

18 March

Three robbers in a small boat attempted to board a bulk carrier at Caofeidian Anchorage at 0040 hrs local time. The crew noticed the robbers however and raised the alarm and alerted the master, prompting the robbers to abandon the attempt.

PGI Analysis: Robberies are infrequently reported at Caofeidian Anchorage, although many are likely to have gone unreported. Robbers typically target vessels overnight to take advantage of low visibility. They are typically easily deterred although may use violence once on board the vessel, underscoring the need for vigilance while at anchor in Southeast Asia.


Nigeria: Pirates attack cargo ship near Bonny Island

16 March

A general cargo ship was attacked at 0900 hrs local time around 36 nm southwest of Bonny Island. Armed pirates attacked and boarded the general cargo ship. The alarm was raised and all crew retreated into the citadel. The owners contacted the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) and requested assistance. The centre immediately informed the Nigerian Navy, which dispatched patrol boats to assist the ship. The IMB PRC liaised with the owners and the navy on the incident. The naval personnel boarded the ship. No pirates were found onboard. The crew emerged from the citadel and sailed to a safe port under the escort of the naval personnel.

Nigeria: Vessel reports pirate attack off coast of Bonny Island

16 March

A vessel reported a suspected pirate attack at 1041 hrs local time 10 nm off the coast of Bonny. The attack was unsuccessful. No further details of the incident were reported.

Nigeria: Pirates attack merchant vessel 5 nm off Bonny

16 March

A merchant vessel reported that it came under attack 5 nm southwest of Bonny Fairway buoy at 0900 hrs local time. The vessel’s armed security team fired warning shots and the vessel took evasive manoeuvres, prompting the pirates to abort the attempt. The vessel was later reported as safe.

Nigeria: Pirates attack tanker southwest of Bonny Fairway

14 March

Pirates in a speed boat attacked a tanker at 1940 hrs local time around 43 nm southwest of Bonny Fairway. The pirates aborted their attempts to board the tanker as it carried out evasive manoeuvres. The tanker was reported safe.

Nigeria: Pirates kidnap four crew from cargo vessel off Bonny Island

9 February

According to a late report, 10 pirates in two speedboats kidnapped four crew from a Bahamas-flagged refrigerated cargo ship at 1130 hrs local time around 47 nm southwest of Bonny Island. The vessel raised the alarm and issued a distress call. The heavily armed pirates opened fire and then boarded the cargo ship. A crew member was injured in the shooting. The pirates then departed, abducting the four crew members as they escaped. The remaining crew sailed the ship into open seas.

PGI Analysis: Niger Delta-based pirates regularly stage attacks on merchant vessels and tankers off the coast of Bonny Island in kidnap for ransom attacks. The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) reported 31 piracy attacks in 2017, with the final quarter seeing the highest number of attacks, despite NIMASA’s statements that it is bolstering its counter-piracy capabilities. The reports of three pirate attacks against vessels on 16 March underscores maritime security failings in the region, as the timings and locations of the attacks indicate they were perpetrated by the same pirate group which was able to continue to search for vulnerable vessels despite repeated failed attempts.

Select Maritime News

Cote d’Ivoire: Coffee farmers union calls to protest in Abidjan on 19 March

19 March

Coffee farmers union, Syndicat national agricole pour le progress, called its 57,000 members to protest in Abidjan on 19 March to denounce weeks of transport delays at the port of Abidjan. Tens of trucks carrying tonnes of coffee beans have been stranded at the port since early February after port authorities prevented transporters from offloading their merchandise. The Coffee and Cocoa Board said that a lack of ships was the reason for the delays although it did not disclose any further information.

Grenada: Authorities issue warning to ships over volcano

15 March

Ships sailing in the Caribbean have been warned to avoid sailing near Kick ’em Jenny volcano after it showed increased seismic activity. Authorities in Grenada, which is located 8 km off the volcano, imposed a 5 km exclusion zone around the volcano after the alert was raised to orange, meaning an eruption is possible within 24 hours. The volcano is located on the shipping route from St Vincent to Grenada.


Italy: Second World War bomb prompts mass evacuation in Fano

13 March

Around 23,000 people were evacuated from the town of Fano, on Italy’s Adriatic coast, after an unexploded bomb from the Second World War was discovered during excavation work. Officials in the town feared that the British-made device might explode after it was accidentally activated. The evacuations caused disruption to train services and patients were reportedly moved from a hospital. The port and airport were also closed. Army and naval explosives experts removed the device in the early hours of 14 March and dropped it into the sea.

Libya: EU to expand training of coastguards

15 March

The EU’s naval mission said it would step up its training of Libyan coastguards this year. The naval mission, which has trained 188 coastguard personnel since 2016, aims to train another 300-500 by the end of 2018. The EU and Italy have been providing support for Libya’s coastguards to help them intercept migrants trying to reach European shores, a strategy that has been criticised by human rights groups.

Libya: Navy seizes oil tanker suspected of fuel smuggling

15 March

The navy seized a Togo-flagged fuel tanker and arrested its eight Greek crew members on suspicion they planned to smuggle oil out of the country, a navy spokesman said. The tanker was intercepted off Abu Kamash, on the country’s northwestern coast. Libya’s lawlessness and heavily subsidised oil prices have contributed to the country becoming a key source of oil smuggling.

Mexico: Authorities to reinforce security at Caribbean ports

15 March

Authorities announced they would reinforce security at ports and docks in the Caribbean after a tourist ferry exploded, injuring 24 people in February. The head of the Integral Port Administration said security measures are expected to be put in place as soon as 18 March and will be reinforced with a permanent strategy by federal officials.

Netherlands: Court fines shipping firm for illegally demolishing vessels in India

15 March

A Dutch court fined shipping company Seatrade and two of its directors up to USD 925,275, after finding them guilty of illegally sailing ships to India in 2012 to have them demolished, Reuters reported. The directors were also banned from executive roles at any shipping company for a year. According to the court, Seatrade violated EU rules and sent the ships to be demolished, with the vessels ending up on beaches in India, Bangladesh and Turkey, where their dismantling polluted the environment and endangered the lives of the workers involved, Reuters reported. Ships registered in the EU must be recycled through approved facilities but loopholes in the law mean that hundreds of ships end up in South Asian countries where they are dismantled by untrained workers who lack the necessary safety equipment.

Sri Lanka: Colombo, Tokyo to boost maritime security cooperation

14 March

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation on maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region. The agreement came during Sirisena’s official visit to Japan. Under the deal, both countries will advance bilateral defence exchanges, with Japan assisting Sri Lanka in capacity building for maritime law enforcement, Reuters reported. Japan will also invest in Sri Lankan port infrastructure. The agreements are part of Japan’s strategy to boost freedom of navigation in the region amid rival China’s growing presence in the region

Tunisia: Navy detains 120 migrants off Kerkennah Islands

15 March

Local media said that the navy detained 120 migrants, most of whom were Tunisian nationals, off the coast of the Kerkennah Islands as they attempted to reach the Italian coast. Those detained were taken to Sfax where they were handed to the national guard. Tunisian naval forces often arrest those attempting to leave the country through illegal routes. Unemployment is high in Tunisia and many young people attempt to leave to find better opportunities in Europe.

United States: Maersk container carrying sulfuric acid still missing

13 March

One of the containers which collapsed from a Maersk ship on 3 March was carrying some 2.6 kg of sulfuric acid, the US Coast Guard (USCG) reported, citing data provided by Maersk. The Liberia-flagged containership lost 76 containers some 17 miles off Oregon Inlet, North Carolina, on 3 March, due to high winds and heavy seas. The USCG said there were no indications that any containers of sulfuric acid had surfaced or washed up on the shore.