Weekly Maritime Security Report

Select Maritime News

Italy: Authorities block NGO boat carrying migrants off the coast of Sicily

11 June

Authorities prevented a boat from French NGO SOS-Mediterranée carrying 629 migrants from entering Messina port in Sicily, as part of the new government’s tougher policy on immigration. The boat was redirected to Malta where it was also turned down. On 11 June, the boat remained at sea unable to reach a nearby coast.

Libya: Coast guards intercept 152 migrants off Zuwara, Garabulli

10 June

Coast guards intercepted 152 African and Arab migrants off the northwestern towns of Zuwara and Garabulli, local media reported. The coast guard said that the migrants were aboard two sinking rubber dinghys when they were rescued. The migrants were taken to Tripoli and handed over to a government agency tasked with countering illegal immigration, the coast guard added. Libya remains an important point of departure for migrants trying to reach European shores despite EU-backed measures against human smuggling.

Libya: UN sanctions six for human trafficking

7 June

The UN Security Council issued sanctions against six individuals, four Libyans and two Eritreans, for alleged involvement in human trafficking and migrant smuggling between Libya and Europe. Among the Libyan nationals is Abd al-Rahman al-Milad, the Commander of the Libyan coastguard in Zawiya. Local media reported that Milad had taken bribes from human traffickers to ensure that migrant boats were allowed to pass by coastguard vessels. The Zawiya coastguard currently receives EU funding for its actions in preventing migrant boats reaching Europe.

Mauritania: Police arrest about 50 Senegalese in Nouadhibou

5 June

Mauritanian military officers arrested about 50 Senegalese nationals aboard a boat near the port city of Nouadhibou. The group were reportedly heading to the Spanish archipelago of the Canary Islands. The migrants were interrogated by the military before being handed over to the police and returned to Senegal, according to the customs force in Mauritania. The incident is part of a wider trend of Senegalese migration attempts to Europe.

Morocco: Navy intercepts 472 migrants at sea

10 June

The navy rescued 472 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean overnight, the army said in a statement. The migrants were rescued after their vessel broke down, the statement added. It was not clear where exactly the rescue took place. Migrant departures from Morocco towards Spain have increased in the past year.

Myanmar: Yangon government submits plans for new port, industrial zones

5 June

Yangon’s regional government has submitted plans for 11 new industrial zones around the outskirts of the city and a new port terminal. The regional government has stated the projects are aimed at improving regional development, creating jobs and attracting foreign investment into Myanmar. The new port terminal would be deeper than the nearest port, Thilawa, and would allow for oil imports. Myanmar’s network of nine sea ports struggles to handle large vessels and suffers from significant levels of traffic.

Oman: Australian vessel seizes three drug shipments totalling 5.9 tonnes

5 June

The Australian vessel HMAS Warramunga seized three large-scale drug shipments totalling more than 5.9 tonnes from vessels in the Arabian Sea. The ship halted vessels on 3, 4 and 5 June, seizing shipments of cannabis weighing 3.3 tonnes, 2.6 tonnes and 40 kg respectively. The exact location of the seizures was not immediately confirmed. HMAS Warramunga is deployed to the region as part of Operation Manitou and the vessel has seized around 31.8 tonnes of cannabis resin and 2 tonnes of heroin since it started operations in November 2017.

Spain: Update: Authorities allow stranded migrant boat to dock at Valencia

11 June

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced that Spain would welcome the SOS-Mediterranée ship carrying 629 migrants after it was turned away from ports in Italy and Malta on 10 June. The ship is to dock at the port of Valencia.

Tunisia: Migrant boat accident death toll rises to 60

5 June

Some 60 migrants died after their vessel sank off the Tunisian island of Kerkennah, marking one of the worst migrant boat accidents in years. According to the UN migration agency, 48 of the victims were Tunisian nationals. Security officials said there were 180 migrants aboard the boat, including 80 from other countries in Africa. Increased pressure on migrant sea routes out of Libya has diverted activity to other parts of North Africa, including Tunisia.

Turkey: Authorities detain 171 undocumented migrants

6 June

A total of 171 undocumented migrants were held across the country, unnamed security sources told state-run Anadolu news agency. Law enforcement held 87 undocumented migrants in the eastern province of Van, of whom 81 were Afghan nationals and six were Pakistani nationals, according to Anadolu. Coast-guard officers intercepted a group of migrants off the coast of Izmir province’s Seferihisar district, detaining 41 Syrian migrants. They had reportedly been seeking to travel illegally to the Greek islands using a rubber boat. In Aydin province’s Didim district, 43 undocumented migrants of Syrian nationality were also held and sent to a provincial migration authority.

United States: Newspaper reports Beijing hacked US navy contractor

8 June

The Washington Post reported Chinese government computers stole a large quantity of highly sensitive information on undersea warfare from the computers of a US navy contractor. The hacked material included plans for a supersonic anti-ship missile to be used on US submarines. The officials told the newspaper the breaches took place in January and February and were the subject of an ongoing investigation by the navy and FBI.

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