Weekly Maritime Security Report

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Yemen: Skiffs approach underway oil tanker off the coast of Perim Island

24 February

Two skiffs approached an underway oil tanker around 42 nm southwest of Perim Island at 1700 hrs local time. The skiffs came within 1 cable of the vessel. Further information regarding the incident was not immediately available.

Yemen: Skiff approaches underway yacht in Gulf of Aden

26 February

A skiff approached an underway yacht in the Gulf of Aden, about 109 nm southwest of Al Mukalla, at 0930 hrs local time. The skiff was reportedly transporting a ladder.

PGI Analysis: The security situation in the waters off Yemen is volatile due to the presence of pirates, weapons and human traffickers as well as the potential for Houthi missile and rocket attacks targeting vessels in the Red Sea.



Nigeria: Pirates attempt to board underway container ship off the coast of Brass

21 February

Four to six armed pirates aboard a speedboat attempted to board an underway container ship at 0116 hrs local time, 80 nm southwest of Brass. The pirates opened fire on the ship and attempted to board twice, although failed due to evasive manoeuvring. The captain raised the alarm and non-essential crew mustered in the citadel during the attack. The pirates abandoned pursuit after the second attempt. Crew and vessel were reported safe. Pirates regularly attempt to board underway tankers and cargo ships in the Gulf of Guinea, mostly to kidnap crew for ransom.

Nigeria: Pirates board supply vessel off Bonny Island

21 February

An unconfirmed number of pirates boarded an offshore supply vessel about 34 nm southeast of Bonny Island at approximately 1320 hrs local time. The vessel sustained minor damage. The pirates aborted the boarding attempt and escaped before authorities arrived. Crew were reported safe. A Nigerian navy vessel was dispatched to escort the vessel to safety.

PGI Analysis: Pirate attacks are common in the waters off the Niger Delta states and assailants are often highly aggressive and persistent, frequently chasing and opening fire on merchant vessels for several hours. 

Select Maritime News

Brazil: Authorities seize 680 kg of cocaine at Santos port

19 February

Authorities seized 680 kg of cocaine hidden inside several bags in a cargo container of minerals at Santos port. Authorities found the narcotics during a routine cargo inspection at an unspecified terminal at the port. The drugs were bound for Antwerp port in Belgium.

Dominican Republic: Authorities seize 91 kg of cocaine at Caucedo port

24 February

Authorities seized 91 kg of cocaine hidden inside a container carrying plastic bottles. Authorities found the narcotics during an interdiction operation at one of port’s terminals, local media reported. According to local officials, the narcotics were bound for Puerto Rico.

Gabon: Maritime access to Owendo port blocked for fifth day

21 February

The maritime access to the port of Owendo remained blocked for a fifth day after a forty-foot container was dragged into the water by recent heavy rains. Some seven container-carriers are still waiting to access the port to offload their merchandise while two vessels were redirected to nearby ports, port authorities said. It was not immediately clear how long it would take the Bolloré-operated port to clear the container to allow operations to resume.

Iran: Tehran releases Jordanian fishermen

20 February

Iranian authorities released three Jordanian fishermen who had been arrested in December 2018 after accidentally entering Iranian waters, Jordan’s foreign ministry spokesman said. The three were fined for illegally entering Iranian waters. The release comes after the fishermen’s case was raised by the Jordanian parliament speaker in a meeting with the Iranian ambassador to Amman.

Mexico: Navy seizes 630 kg of cocaine off the coast of Sinaloa

18 February

The navy announced personnel had seized more than 630 kg of cocaine from a speedboat off the coast of Sinaloa state. The navy said in a statement that soldiers roped down from a hovering helicopter to the boat and detained 15 crew members. Eight of those detained were from Ecuador, four were Colombian and three were Mexican. Cocaine is commonly moved by sea from South America to landing points in Central America and Mexico. From there it typically moves overland to the US.

Netherlands: Customs intercept 90,000 bottles of vodka at Rotterdam port

22 February

Customs officials at the port of Rotterdam intercepted a container with 90,000 bottles of vodka, which were likely intended for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and some military officers, according to media reports. The container was found under the hull of an aircraft which was onboard the cargo ship. The vessel was bound for China. The confiscation was sanctioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, port officials said. North Korean authorities have been known to use various methods to circumvent UN-imposed sanctions.

Oman: Authorities arrest three, seize khat in Salalah

20 February

Coast guard patrols arrested 10 people in a fishing vessel near Salalah as they attempted to smuggle an unconfirmed quantity of khat into the country. Officials said that police seized more than 2,200 packets of khat of an unknown weight. Trafficking attempts are common in Oman, particularly drugs and contraband fuel.

Oman: Coast guard arrests four, seizes two vessels over smuggling near Khasab port

20 February

Local media reported that coast guard personnel arrested four foreign nationals of an unconfirmed nationality and seized two vessels being used to smuggle diesel near Khasab port. There was no confirmation of the volume of diesel seized. Due to large subsidies on fuel, smuggling is common, though authorities have repeatedly cut subsidies and introduced registration systems to curb smuggling.

Philippines: Fire breaks out at bureau of customs building at Manila port

23 February

A fire broke out inside the Bureau of Customs (BOC) building at the Manila port at around 2100 hrs local time on 22 February. It took authorities around 10 hours to contain the blaze. Media reports did not indicate whether there were any casualties or how the fire began. The agency will temporarily transfer its operations to the BOC’s Gymnasium in South Harbor, Manila, to ensure that port operations will not be hindered.

Tunisia: Customs seize cannabis at Tunis port

25 February

Customs seized 300 blocks of cannabis resin at Tunis’s La Goulette port. The contraband was hidden aboard a shipment of furniture that had originated from the French city of Marseille. The weight of the narcotics was not disclosed.

United Arab Emirates: Authorities ease Qatar shipping ban

20 February

The UAE has relaxed a nearly two-year ban on shipping goods between it and Qatar according to a notice dated 12 February but not previously reported. The UAE will now allow goods to be shipped from Qatar, though Qatari-flagged and owned vessels remain prohibited from the UAE. Vessels from the UAE also remain barred from Qatar. Despite the move, there was no indication of any resolution of the Saudi and UAE-led diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar, which stems from a dispute over Doha’s foreign policy.

Venezuela: Government shuts air, maritime routes to Caribbean islands

19 February

Venezuela closed air and maritime routes to Curacao, Aruba, and Bonaire, government representatives said. The shutdown reportedly applies to commercial and fishing boats as well as private and commercial flights, local media reported. The islands were reportedly used as a transit route for humanitarian aid. President Nicolas Maduro has claimed that foreign countries are using humanitarian aid to undermine him amid a political and economic crisis.


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