Weekly Maritime Security Report

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Somalia: Pirates approach bulk carrier off Mogadishu

16 October

Four pirates on a speedboat, armed with Kalashnikov-style rifles approached and fired shots at an underway bulk carrier at 1534 hrs local time, 340 nm off the coast of Mogadishu. The master raised the alarm and contacted authorities. Onboard armed guards returned fire, resulting in the abortion of the attack. All crew were reported safe.

PGI Analysis: Reported piracy incidents off the coast of Somalia have declined since a spate of attacks in mid-2017. The latest incident underscores the continued risk of attacks, even at long distances from Somalia’s coastline, highlighting the need for continued vigilance and compliance with the maritime industry’s Best Management Practice 5 guidelines.

Indonesia: Armed robbers target bulk carrier off Samarinda

18 October

Two robbers armed with a knife boarded a bulk carrier anchored at Muara Berau Anchorage, Samarinda between 0130 hrs to 0230 hrs local time. Duty crew raised the alarm and crew mustered when the assailants were sighted, and a search found ship’s stores had been stolen. The incident was reported to local authorities.

PGI Analysis: Robberies are frequently reported at anchorages off Samarinda. Assailants are often armed with knives, although are typically easily deterred. Robberies typically occur overnight or in the early hours of the morning when robbers look to take advantage of reduced patrols and lowered visibility, underscoring the need for crew vigilance at all times while at anchor in the area.

Congo: Armed robbers board vessel in Pointe Noire

23 October

Armed robbers boarded a vessel at 0028 hrs local time in Pointe Noire. The robbers reportedly managed to board via the anchor chain. The alarm was raised leading the robbers to escape. The crew and vessel were reported safe.

PGI Analysis: Non-violent robberies are periodically reported at Pointe Noire anchorage although assailants are usually easily deterred by basic security procedures such as raising the alarm. Robbers are occasionally armed although rarely willing to confront crew and will often flee once the alarm is raised.


Nigeria: Armed robbers attempt to board vessel near Lagos port

17 October

Five robbers armed with guns and hooks attempted to board a product tanker at Lagos Secure Anchorage Area (LSAA) at 0155 hrs local time. Crew on board the tanker spotted the robbers trying to board the vessel using hooks from a small boat alongside the anchor chain. Crew shouted at the intruders and informed the bridge who sounded the alarm. The robbers fled the scene upon hearing the alarm. Local authorities dispatched a patrol vessel to the scene and conducted searches on the tanker. Nothing was reported stolen and the robbers were not captured.

PGI Analysis: Security incidents are rarely reported in the LSAA, though the incident comes days after two suspected robbers boarded a product tanker in the LSAA on 14 October. Although the assailants were unsuccessful in both incidents, the reports raise concerns over security in the LSAA. Criminals typically target vessels waiting outside the LSAA and at Lagos port complex where security is poor and theft, robberies and unauthorised boardings are regularly reported. Assailants are often armed and are known to use force to intimidate crew into giving in to their demands.


Select Maritime News

Azerbaijan: Three Iranian sailors killed in chemical accident off Pirallahi Island

19 October

The coast guard rescued seven Iranian sailors from a vessel transporting wheat off the coast of Pirallahi Island. At least three sailors died from what appeared to be chemical poisoning. The Iranian vessel had issued a distress signal while en route between Aqtau and Baku. Investigators said the sailors likely died from exposure to a chemical used to preserve wheat.

Mexico: Tropical storms Willa, Vicente to make landfall on 31 October

21 October

Tropical storms Willa and Vicente are set to make landfall in southern Mexico on 31 October, brining heavy rains and sustained winds of at least 100 km/h. Storm Willa is expected to grow into a category 1 hurricane in the coming days, while Vicente is expected to remain a tropical storm. The storm is expected to affect most of the pacific coast, including Acapulco, Zihuatanejo and Manzanillo.

Morocco: Navy rescues 54 migrants, refugees off coast near Saidia

18 October

The military said that naval forces rescued 54 migrants and refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean after their vessel started to fail off the coast of Saidia. The migrants and refugees were brought to Nador. Migrant crossing attempts have increased in recent months. Authorities said that security services halted 54,000 smuggling attempts between January and August, compared to 39,000 during the same period in 2017.

Morocco: Customs seize foreign currency at Tanger-Med port

16 October

Customs officials seized approximately USD 55,000 in Euros at Tanger-Med port. The cash was smuggled by a Moroccan national inside his shoes and cooking utensils. The suspect had arrived at the port aboard a personal vehicle registered in Italy.

Panama: Authorities seize more than 1 tonne of narcotics at Colon port

16 October

Authorities seized more than 1 tonne of cocaine from a vessel at Colon port. The drugs were hidden in 15 bags inside a container on board a cargo vessel inbound from Buenaventura port in Colombia. The final destination of the drugs remains unclear and no arrests were reported over the incident.

Senegal: Gendarmes seize illegal wood in Thiès region

17 October

Gendarmes seized a large quantity of illegal wood from the banks off Mbour, Thiès region, following an anonymous tip-off. Some 53 planks of the wood were concealed inside canoes. Authorities said the wood was due to be used to make canoes to transport illegal migrants although an investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Somalia: Authorities seize contraband alcohol at Mogadishu port

18 October

Customs officials seized a container filled with 905 boxes of smuggled whiskey at Mogadishu port. The origin of the contraband remains unclear. Authorities reportedly destroy the smuggled beverages. Somalia has very strict regulations on alcohol use and smuggling is sporadically reported.

United Kingdom: Ferry hits yachts off Isle of Wight

21 October

A ferry struck several yachts while trying to berth at Cowes Harbour off the Isle of Wight. None of the 40 passengers on board were injured and no one was reported missing or in the water. The ferry had left Southampton at 0700 hrs local time and then struggled to berth at Cowes Harbour due to poor visibility. One vessel reportedly sank due to a collision with the ferry.

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