Weekly Maritime Security Report

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India: Three assailants attempt to board tanker in Kandla Anchorage

26 October

Three attackers attempted to board an anchored Marshall Islands-flagged tanker using hooks attached to ropes in Kandla Anchorage at 2043 hrs local time. Crew noticed the assailants and raised the alarm, prompting the assailants to escape. There were no reported injuries.

PGI Analysis: Robberies are common at Kandla Anchorage, particularly overnight when thieves take advantage of low visibility. Although some robbers are reported to be armed, instances of violence are rare, indicating thieves are predominantly armed for self-protection or intimidation.

 

Philippines: Authorities warn of armed ASG members planning kidnapping off Sabah

30 October

The Philippine Coast Guard warned that members of Islamist armed group Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were planning to kidnap businessmen or crew on board foreign vessels in the waters off Sabah. The coast guard said a group of militants armed with pistols, rifles and a grenade launcher were operating in the area using an unmarked blue and white motor banca.

PGI Analysis: ASG has previously carried out a series of kidnappings at sea in the Sulu and Celebes seas, although such reports have declined since 2017 due to joint maritime patrols by Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines in the area. The report comes after ASG kidnapped three Indonesian fishermen off Sabah on 11 September, underscoring the group’s continued intent to conduct kidnappings at sea in the area, although there have been no successful attacks targeting a commercial vessel in the region since March 2017.

 

Congo: Pirates hijack merchant vessel off Pointe-Noire

29 October

An unspecified number of pirates hijacked a merchant vessel 102 nm off Pointe-Noire at 1524 hrs hrs local time. The incident came hours after another vessel was attacked in the area at 1350 hrs local time, although it was later reported as safe. No additional details on the incident have been reported and it remains unclear if the crew was taken hostage.

Nigeria: Authorities report release of 12 hostages kidnapped on Swiss vessel Glarus

28 October

Authorities announced that pirates had agreed to release 12 hostages taken from the Swiss bulk carrier Glarus on 22 September off the coast of Bonny Island. Negotiations were reportedly held between the Swiss freight company Massoel Shipping and the pirates. The hostages, who were released on 26 October and included seven Filipinos, a Croatian, a Bosnian, a Slovenian, a Ukrainian and a Romanian, were flown to Switzerland for questioning following their release. Swiss newspaper Blick reported that the pirates were members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a rebel group fighting for Niger Delta residents to receive more revenues from the large oil sector in the region.

Nigeria: Unknown gunmen attack vessel off Bonny Island

27 October

Unknown gunmen attacked a vessel 72 nm off Bonny at 0030 hrs local time. The vessel was reported safe shortly after. Details of the attack were not communicated. Acts of piracy are regularly reported off the coast of Nigeria.

Nigeria: Merchant vessel reports suspicious approach by pirates off Bonny Island

25 October

A merchant vessel reported a suspicious approach by an unknown number of speed boats with pirates on board approximately 24 nm east of Bonny Island at around 2130 hrs local time. Further details were not provided. Niger Delta-based pirate groups often attack merchant vessels in the Gulf of Guinea in kidnap-for-ransom attacks.

PGI Analysis: Hijacking incidents are rarely reported as far south as Congo although the quick succession of the attacks suggests that the same group may have been responsible for both incidents. There were also unconfirmed reports that a third vessel had been attacked off Congo. The majority of attacks off West Africa occur between 20 and 150 nm south of Nigeria, although the latest attacks underscore the unpredictable geographic variations in maritime security in the region.

 

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Bangladesh: Transport workers’ strike disrupts container traffic at Chittagong port

29 October

Operations at Chittagong’s port have come to a halt due to an ongoing strike by transporters throughout the country. At least 4,200 containers have not been picked up from the port since the strike began at 0530 hrs local time on 28 October. The port operator cancelled at least two planned container vessel trips due to congestion. Transporters are demanding reforms to laws governing the sector, including recently increased fines for drivers involved in accidents.

Japan: Authorities investigate 340 kg methamphetamine seizure in Nagoya

24 October

Japanese and Taiwanese authorities launched an investigation after police seized 340 kg of methamphetamine at Nagoya Port at an unspecified time in October. The police arrested three Taiwanese nationals reportedly involved in an international drug smuggling ring. The drugs had been hidden in the metal wheel hubs of vehicles transported from Taiwan. Drug seizures are occasionally reported in Japan.

Greece: Authorities arrest two in Chios for human trafficking

24 October

Authorities on the eastern island of Chios arrested two Turkish nationals on suspicion of smuggling an undocumented female migrant from Turkey on a luxury yacht. The two suspects were intercepted by authorities as they attempted to sail away after delivering the woman to the port. Local media reports indicate the woman had paid them around USD 4,500.

Spain: Police detain 10 people, seize 1.4 tonnes of cocaine in Atlantic Ocean

23 October

Counter-narcotics officers of the National Police carried out an operation in coordination with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that led to the seizure of 1.4 tonnes of cocaine and the arrest of 10 persons. Spanish officers reportedly boarded a tugboat in the Atlantic Ocean around 1,000 nm off the Canary Islands. The tugboat berthed at the Spanish naval base of Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria on 23 October, escorted by a Spanish naval vessel. Seven of those detained were Turkish nationals, while the other three were Bulgarian, Georgian and Ukrainian nationals. A police official told media that the boat had likely been heading for a European, and possibly Spanish, port in order to distribute the cocaine on the continent. The vessel had reportedly been tracked by the DEA and Spanish National Police for several months. It had originally sailed from Turkey to the coast of South America, where 40 packets of cocaine were placed on board. The criminal group behind the trafficking was described by Spanish authorities as a Turkish organisation. Spanish authorities have seized almost 15 tonnes of cocaine in the open ocean in 2018.

Turkey: Foreign ministry summons Greek ambassador to Ankara

23 October

The Greek ambassador to Ankara has been summoned by the foreign ministry. Turkish media reports indicate that the summons is due to anger about remarks by Nikos Kotzias, who recently resigned as Greek foreign minister. Kotzias reportedly said that Greece was ready to extend its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to the west of the country. Earlier in October, Turkey said its navy had prevented a Greek frigate from harassing a Turkish research vessel in the Mediterranean, calling on Athens to refrain from escalating the situation. Both countries have been engaged in a longstanding dispute over their respective continental shelves, hampering attempts to explore for hydrocarbons in the Aegean Sea.

United Arab Emirates: Authorities charge six with smuggling 700 tonnes of petroleum

23 October

Authorities charged six people with smuggling 700 tonnes of petroleum products through UAE waters, according to court records. The seizure came after coast guard officers saw a ship suppling fuel to a fishing vessel off the coast at Ras al-Khaimah. Initial reports did not confirm exactly when the seizure took place. Although seizures of contraband are common, fuel smuggling is rare in the UAE.

Vietnam: Company suspected of smuggling car parts into country

24 October

Customs investigators accused Vietnamese company Posco SS Vina of illegally importing car parts into the country in containers declared as steel scraps in September. Customs officials found full car parts in containers declared as scrap at Cai Mep Port. Vietnam levies an import tax on car parts.

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