Weekly Maritime Security Report

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Peru: Robbers attempt to board vessel at Callao port

19 March

Four robbers wearing jackets and caps attempted to board a vehicle carrier anchored at Callao port at about 0200 hrs local time. The robbers reportedly approached the vessel on a small boat and tried to board the carrier via the anchor cable. Upon spotting the robbers, the duty officer on board sounded the alarm and flashed lights at the pirates. The robbers aborted the robbery attempt and fled the scene. The incident was reported to authorities who dispatched a patrol boat to the anchorage area. No arrests were made in connection with the incident.


PGI Analysis: There is a moderate threat to vessels at ports in Peru, including the risk of opportunistic robberies targeting vessels at anchorages. Reports of such incidents are infrequent, although some incidents are likely to go unreported.


Venezuela: Robbers board tanker at Jose Terminal Anchorage

21 March

Three robbers armed with knives boarded an oil tanker anchored at Jose Terminal Anchorage. A crew member on duty spotted the robbers and notified the officer on watch, who sounded the alarm. The robbers threatened the crew with knives and reportedly stole their radio. The robbers fled on a small boat upon hearing the alarm. The incident was reported to port authorities. Robberies at sea and at anchorages are common in Venezuela.


PGI Analysis: Robberies at sea are frequently reported off Venezuela’s coast and robbers are usually armed and violent. The majority of piracy cases are perpetrated against smaller commercial vessels, although robbers periodically attack larger ships including oil tankers. There is also precedent for attackers to persist when under attack from armed security teams until they have been injured or killed.



Nigeria: Armed robbers attack vessel off Kwa Ibo coast

20 March

Seven unidentified robbers armed with AK-47 rifles attacked a passenger boat around 8 nm south-southeast of Kwa Ibo Coast. The gunmen boarded the vessel and robbed the passengers and crew members before escaping at approximately 0700 hrs local time. The vessel safely moored in Calabar.


PGI Analysis: Pirate attacks off Nigeria are common and typically occur between 20 and 150 nm off the coast, demonstrating pirates’ extensive geographical range of operation. Pirates are often armed and violent and there is precedent for attackers to persist when under attack from armed security teams until they have been injured or killed

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Iraq: Overloaded ferry sinks in Tigris river, killing 45

21 March

An overloaded ferry sunk in the Tigris river near Mosul, killing at least 45 people, according to news reports. The river level was high because of above average precipitation during the recent rainy season.


Libya: Migrant boat sinks off Sabratha, killing 10

19 March

A migrant boat headed for Europe sank off the Libyan coast near the western town of Sabratha, security officials reported. At least 10 people have died and 17 others have been rescued. The boat departed from the town of Zuwarah, carrying at least 27 migrants from various sub-Saharan African countries. Libya remains a major point of departure for migrants trying to reach Europe, and migrant traffickers frequently send migrants and refugees off to cross the Mediterranean Sea in unseaworthy vessels.


Libya: Migrant boat sinks off Sabratha, killing 30

21 March

A migrant boat carrying more than 50 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa sank off the coast of Sabratha, killing 30 individuals. The sinking is the second such incident in the past three days off Sabratha. Libya remains a major departure point for migrants seeking to reach Europe, many of whom attempt to cross the Mediterranean in unseaworthy boats.


Nigeria: Navy arrests 20 for illegal oil bunkering in Akwa Ibom state

20 March

The navy arrested 12 crew members of a ship for allegedly illegally bunkering diesel near Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom state. The suspects were travelling along Mbo river from Cameroon. Oil smuggling is extremely common in the Niger Delta and arrests are made regularly.


Nigeria: Workers threaten strike at Apapa, Tin-Can Island ports from 25 March

22 March

Clearing agents have threatened to go on strike from 25 March at Tin-Can Island and Apapa ports. The workers are demanding authorities address alleged duplication of customs clearing processes, which are increasing costs for agents. The agents are claiming additional customs burdens are forcing the agents to hold containers over the 24-hour limit at the port, leading to additional costs. Customs officials have not yet commented on the threat.


Norway: Authorities evacuate cruise ship after engine failure off Romsdal coast

23 March

Emergency services began to airlift around 1,300 passengers from luxury cruise liner Viking Sky after it lost control in the Hustadvika coast area. The vessel began drifting towards the Norwegian sea following an apparent engine failure amid severe weather off the coast near Romsdal. Tugboats later arrived and began efforts to tug it to the town of Molde. The Hustadvika is a dangerous section of coast and wrecks can occur in severe weather conditions.


Sudan: Khartoum says Cairo’s Red Sea oil blocks illegal

21 March

Sudanese officials have warned against what they call an illegal offering of oil and gas exploration blocks by Egypt in the Red Sea area of Halayeb, a territory claimed by both countries. Egypt’s occupation of the Halayeb Triangle, which lies in a mineral-rich border region of the Red Sea, has been a source of contention for years between Cairo and Khartoum despite an overall improvement in ties since an October 2018 summit.


Taiwan: US Navy, Coast Guard ships pass through Taiwan Strait

24 March

The US sent Navy and Coast Guard ships through the Taiwan Strait, the US military said. The voyage risks raising tensions with China but will likely be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from Washington amid growing tension between Taipei and Beijing. Taiwan’s defense ministry said the ships had passed through the Taiwan Strait from the southwest and proceeded in a northerly direction. Taiwan is one of a growing number of flashpoints in relations between the US and China, which also includes a trade war, US sanctions and the South China Sea, where the US also conducts freedom of navigation patrols.


Tunisia: Police detain 100 in Tunis over illegal migration bid

25 March

Police detained 100 people over a mass illegal migration bid at Tunis’s La Goulette port, state-run media reported. Thirty of the detained individuals are minors. No further details were released. Attempts to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe are common in Tunisia, which suffers from poor economic conditions and high unemployment.


Tunisia: Protesters block Gabes port over environmental concerns

19 March

A group of environmental activists blocked the entrance of Gabes port to protest the arrival of a ship loaded with coal. The duration of the protest was not clear.


Ukraine: Authorities seize 257 kg of cocaine at Yuzhny seaport

21 March

Ukrainian authorities seized 257 kg of cocaine worth an estimated USD 51 mn from a vessel at Yuzhny seaport in Odessa. Officials stated that the shipment was bound for the EU, and was packed within a container of bananas.


Vietnam: Government protests over Beijing’s alleged sinking of vessel

21 March

Hanoi lodged an official protest with China following the alleged sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat in the disputed South China Sea on 6 March. Hanoi demanded that China prevent similar incidents and compensate the fishermen for their losses. Beijing denied sinking the vessel, but responded to Hanoi by demanding that Vietnam stop alleged illegal fishing activities in the area.


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