Weekly Maritime Security Report

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China: Robbers attempt to board bulk carrier at Caofeidian anchorage

24 March

Two robbers in a wooden boat attempted to board a bulk carrier using a ladder at Caofeidian Anchorage at 2315 hrs local time. Duty crew noticed the robbers and raised the alarm. The robbers fled upon seeing the alerted crew.

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.



Benin: Armed assailants board vessel off Cotonou

22 March

Eight assailants armed with knives and guns boarded a merchant vessel at 0215 hrs local time, 7.5 nm southeast of Cotonou. The assailants ordered crew to start the main engine although crew refused to do so. The attackers then remained on the vessel for 90 minutes, stealing crew belongings and ship property before escaping. Further details of the incident were not disclosed.

Nigeria: Pirates kidnap two crew from fishing vessels near Lagos port

22 March

An unspecified number of pirates on a speedboat hijacked two fishing vessels 23 nm south of Lagos Port. The pirates boarded the vessels and sailed to Benin waters, before returning the vessels while abducting two crew members. The navy launched an investigation into the incident. There were no reports on the nationality of the abducted crew.

Nigeria: Two speedboats attack vessel 53 nm off Bonny

22 March

A merchant vessel reported that it came under attack from two speedboats 53 nm southwest of Bonny at 2348 hrs local time. The vessel reported it was safe. No further details of the incident were disclosed.

PGI Analysis: The Gulf of Guinea has seen a significant uptick in attacks in recent weeks, with vessels being attacked further west of Nigeria, indicative of the dynamic nature of piracy in the region. The heightened levels of attacks underscore continued maritime security failings in the region, despite several initiatives by the Nigerian Navy to tackle piracy in recent years.

Select Maritime News

Chile: Fire breaks out at Iquique port

22 March

A major fire occurred in a warehouse at Iquique port in northern Chile. The blaze broke out at 2200 hrs local time and took several hours to bring under control. The extent of the damage was unclear and it was not known if the fire affected port operations.

Italy: Authorities seize rescue ship for not handing migrants to Libyan coastguard

20 March

Italian authorities seized Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish charity’s rescue ship, after it brought 216 migrants who had been stranded off the Libyan coast to Sicily. The ship had refused to release the migrants to the Libyan coastguard, which would have returned them to Africa. The boat was seized when it docked at the port town of Pozzallo, Sicily.

Malaysia: Sand dredging vessel capsizes off Johor, killing one

21 March

A sand dredging vessel capsized on 21 March off Parit Jawa near Muar, Johor Bahru, leaving one crew member dead and 11 missing, according to Maritime Malaysia. Six crew were rescued after the JPP Rong Chang 8 vessel capsized 8.5 nautical miles offshore at 0850 hrs local time. A search and rescue operation is ongoing. Most of the crew are Chinese nationals. The cause of the accident remains unclear.

Mexico: Authorities seize more than 400 kg of cocaine at Veracruz port

24 March

The navy reported the seizure of six suitcases containing more than 400 kg of cocaine at Veracruz port. No further details were provided, including whether any arrests were made. Cocaine is frequently trafficked through ports in the country.

Mexico: Authorities seize one tonne of cocaine off Acapulco

24 March

The navy released a statement saying that an operation involving two boats led to the seizure of almost one tonne of cocaine off the coast of Acapulco. Fourteen people, including six Ecuadoreans and one Colombian, were also arrested in the operation. The confiscation took place on 21 March during a surveillance operation aimed at criminal maritime activities.

Philippines: Beijing, Manila agree to “prudent” cooperation on South China Sea oil exploration

22 March

China and the Philippines have agreed to pursue “prudent” cooperation on offshore oil and gas exploration in the disputed South China Sea, despite ongoing uncertainty over the jurisdiction of the waters. President Rodrigo Duterte has pushed for improved ties with Beijing since coming to power in June 2016, but the Philippine Supreme Court said earlier in March that any joint exploration of oil and gas in the disputed waters would not be legal without China acknowledging Philippine jurisdiction over the waters. On 22 March, Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that the South China Sea is “no longer a source of negative energy”

South Korea: Coast Guard rescues 163 passengers after ferry accident off southwest

26 March

The South Korean Coast Guard rescued all 163 passengers of a ferry after it hit a large rock in waters of the southwestern coast on 24 March, according to local media. Six people suffered mild injuries during the accident, which took place near Shinan county. The ferry was taken to shore by Coast Guard vessels and civilian fishing boats. It reportedly hit the rock while trying to avoid a fishing boat during foggy conditions.

Vietnam: Hanoi halts offshore drilling under pressure from Beijing

24 March

Vietnam suspended offshore oil drilling in the Red Emperor block in Nam Con Son basin 440 km from the southern city of Vung Tau under pressure from China, according to unnamed sources cited by Reuters. The block is licensed to Spanish oil company Repsol. Reports said Vietnam’s politburo was debating how to respond to pressure from China, and whether to suspend or terminate the project. The block is near an area claimed by China, and if the report is confirmed, it would mark the second time in less than a year that Vietnam has suspended a major oil project in the disputed South China Sea under pressure from Beijing.

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