Weekly Maritime Security Report


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Yemen: Skiff approaches merchant vessel off Hanish Islands

11 July

A skiff with eight persons on board approached a merchant vessel 17 nm south of the Hanish Islands in the southern Red Sea at 1110 hrs local time. The skiff came within 0.2 nm of the vessel and crew reported sighting a ladder on board the skiff. The vessel’s security team showed their weapons and the skiff moved away. Suspicious activity and approaches are regularly reported around the Hanish Islands.

Yemen : Fresh security warning for Gulf of Aden

17 July

Following recent attacks against merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Bab el Mandeb region, as well as attempted piracy attacks in March and April, the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) highlighted continued risks in transiting these waters. Daylight attacks with small vessels using small arms, such as rocket-propelled grenades, were conducted against tankers in October 2016 and May 2017, indicating a possible threat of collateral, non-piracy related attacks due to the conflict in Yemen. The threat of piracy also remains. The CMF advised vessels crossing the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea to pass through the area between 44 00 East in the Gulf of Aden and 13 00 N in the Southern Red Sea during the hours of darkness and to leave the Traffic Separation Scheme to the west of the Hanish Islands during the hours of the day.

PGI Analysis: The warning and the suspicious approach off the Hanish Islands come amid continued reports of attacks and suspicious activity in the Bab el Mandeb fuelled by ongoing insecurity in Yemen. The suspicious approach comes days after gunmen attacked a merchant vessel in the same area on 4 July. Many similar incidents are likely to have gone unreported.

Select Maritime News

China: Ten missing after cargo ship sinks near Shanghai

15 July

Ten people are missing after a cargo ship sank off China’s east coast near Shanghai. Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua reported the cargo ship was carrying 3,000 tonnes of rolled steel when it collided with another vessel and sank in the Wusongkou anchorage near Shanghai, causing 13 people to fall overboard. Only three people have reportedly been rescued and search and rescue efforts are ongoing. The ship was travelling from east China’s Nanjing to Guangzhou in south China. In January, an Iranian oil tanker sank after burning for more than a week following a collision on 6 January off Shanghai in the East China Sea.

Eritrea: Addis Ababa to re-open roads to Red Sea ports

11 July

An Ethiopian government spokesperson said re-opening roads leading to Eritrea’s Red Sea ports was a priority for Addis Ababa after the two countries agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations earlier in July. Both sides are working to normalise relations and there are plans for embassies to open, flights to resume and for Eritrean passport holders to travel to Ethiopia more easily. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has indicated that the turnaround in relations will significantly benefit Ethiopia’s and Eritrea’s economies.

Iraq: Tens of protesters block access to Umm Qasr port near Basra

13 July

Around 100 protesters blocked access to the Umm Qasr commodities port near Basra demanding employment opportunities and better access to public services. Port operations were severely disrupted as no trucks could access the port, Daily Star reported, citing a port worker. This demonstration came amid days of protests in other parts of Basra province, where local youth are demanding job opportunities.

Israel : Navy seizes boat attempting to break Gaza blockade

10 July

The navy said it had seized a fishing boat that had attempted to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. The vessel, which was carrying students and Gazans said to have been wounded in clashes with Israeli forces, had left from Gaza earlier in the day. The navy said it had arrested all eight passengers on board and towed the vessel to an army base at Ashdod port before providing medical treatment to the wounded individuals. The incidents marks the second attempt in two months to break the blockade, which Israel says is needed to prevent the Hamas Islamist group from importing weapons.

Nigeria: Truckers end week-long strike, relieving pressure on port operators

11 July

Truckers put an end to a week-long strike that disrupted port operations and prevented vessels from berthing due to congestion at ports. The strike started on 6 July over the local authorities’ failure to reduce traffic congestion. The strike was reportedly called off after the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) mediated talks between drivers, the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). While authorities have said they would hold talks with the truckers, no solution has yet been proposed to meet their demands.

Nigeria: Police arrest four people over container theft at Apapa port

11 July

Lagos police arrested four port workers for allegedly diverting containers holding building materials at Apapa port. The suspects reportedly stole four containers with floor tiles and other materials worth an estimated USD 27,750. The police said the theft was carried out with the aid of forged documents. Organised crime and theft is widespread at Nigerian ports.

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