Protection Vessels International: Weekly Maritime Security Report
South East Asia
Indonesia: Robbers board underway bulk carrier off the coast of Pulau Merapas
Five knife-wielding robbers boarded an underway bulk carrier at 0530 hrs local time around 11 nautical miles east of Pulau Merapas. The robbers stole personal items and money from the master, who they threatened but left unharmed. The robbers successfully fled the scene before security forces were alerted. Robberies at sea are regularly reported in Indonesia.
PGI Analysis: Robberies are commonly reported at Indonesian anchorages, particularly overnight when assailants take advantage of low visibility. Robbers are typically opportunistic and non-violent, although there is precedent for robbers to use force in the region.
Philippines: Robbers board cargo vessel in Batangas Bay
Two robbers boarded an anchored Liberia-Flagged container ship, the Northern Defender, at 0100 hrs local time in Tabangao Anchorage area, Batangas Bay, Philippines. The robbers boarded from a small motor banca approximately three meters in length and painted blue. The robbers then allegedly stole various items including fire nozzles and cable wire from the ship. The ship’s master and crew were not aware of the robbery on board their ship until the Philippine Coast Guard maritime patrol team alerted them and informed them of the stolen items they had confiscated.
PGI Analysis: Petty thieves intermittently target vessels in the Batangas Bay area, although such incidents have been more common around Manila Anchorage. Robbers often target ships during the night to take advantage of reduced visibility. In this case, the crew and ship’s master did not detect the robbers and were unaware of the security breach until they were contacted by local authorities.
Nigeria: Pirates attack LNG tanker off Bonny Island
Armed assailants attacked a Bermuda-flagged LNG tanker at 0521 hrs local time around 30 nautical miles southwest of Bonny Island. Nine pirates in a speedboat opened fire on the vessel which undertook evasive action and raised the alarm. Crew mustered in the citadel and the SSAS alert was activated. Pirates aborted the attack after several attempts. The Nigerian Navy dispatched a patrol boat and the tanker was escorted into the port of Bonny. The vessel and crew were reported safe.
Nigeria: Pirates attack merchant vessel off Niger Delta
Eight armed assailants attacked a merchant vessel at 0500 hrs local time approximately 2 nautical miles off the mouth of the River Niger. The attackers approached in a small blue-coloured boat wearing black/dark clothes and covering their faces. Vessel crew were reported to be safe.
PGI Analysis: The attackers used dark clothing and a blue-painted vessel in an attempt to evade detection. Although few details were reported, it is likely that vigilance on the part of the ship’s captain and crew enabled successful evasion. Vessels should exercise caution when transiting the waters 10 – 150 nautical miles off Nigeria’s coastline, as this is where the majority of kidnap attacks take place.
Nigeria: Navy rescue kidnapped crew hours after abduction south of Bonny Island
Armed pirates attacked a drifting UK-flagged bulk carrier at 0922 local time around 23 nm south of Bonny Island. Pirates reportedly broke into the bridge and opened fire, damaging windows. They stole some of the ship’s property, robbed the crew of cash and belongings, and kidnapped 10 crew members before escaping. The Nigerian Navy later intercepted the pirate boat and successfully freed the hostages and arrested five pirates. There were no reports of casualties during the intervention. The crew and vessel were taken to Port Harcourt.
Select Maritime News
Costa Rica: Authorities seize 600 kg of drugs off the coast of Matapalo
Authorities seized 600 kg of cocaine from a small fishing boat 800 km off the coast of Matapalo in Costa Rican Pacific waters. The drugs were found during an anti-narcotics operation conducted by Costs Rica’s drug control police with the aid of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Two Costa Rican and three Colombian individuals were arrested at the scene. The drugs were destined to the US, according to local authorities.
Croatia: Police seize 156 kg of marijuana near Dubrovnik
Police recovered 156 kg of marijuana in packages in the areas of Orebic, Blato on Korcula and Mljet near Dubrovnik on 2 and 3 November. Police suspect that the contraband was being shipped via maritime smuggling routes from Albania or Montenegro to Italy, before it was ejected or fell out and ended up floating to the Croatian coast. A similar incident occurred in March, when marijuana packages floated into Dubrovnik’s Old City port.
Ecuador: Authorities seize 589 kg of cocaine at Guayaquil port
Authorities seized 589 kg of cocaine hidden inside a banana container at Guayaquil port. The narcotics were destined for Belgium, according to local authorities. Authorities have seized more than 9.5 tonnes of cocaine at Ecuador’s maritime ports so far in 2018.
Italy: Authorities seize 270 kg of heroin in Genoa port
Authorities seized 270 kg of heroin in the port of Genoa. The seizure was the largest in 20 years, police said. The shipment reportedly originated from Iran, local police reported.
Morocco: Migrant boat sinks off Melilla, killing 17
A boat carrying irregular migrants sank off the coast of the Spanish enclave of Melilla in north-eastern Morocco during inclement weather overnight. Authorities recovered 13 bodies in Melilla and four others in waters around Cadiz in southwest Spain. More than 100 other migrants were rescued alive by Spanish authorities. An estimated 47,500 migrants have attempted to cross the Mediterranean between Morocco and Spain in artisanal boats since the beginning of the year.
Norway: Navy frigate, oil tanker collide off west coast
A navy frigate and an oil tanker collided off the western coast of Norway, lightly injuring eight people. The frigate sustained significant damage although there was no sign of any leak from the Sola oil tanker. Sola had just left Equinor’s Sture oil shipment terminal with a cargo of crude. Equinor temporarily shut down the terminal as a precautionary measure, Reuters reported. It is unclear what caused the two vessels to collide although authorities have launched an investigation.
Panama: Authorities seize 322 packs of drugs at Escondido port
Authorities seized 322 packs of unspecified narcotics from a vessel docked at Port of Escondido. The narcotics were found in a cargo ship originating in Colombia, according to local authorities. Drug seizures at Panama ports are frequent as international drug gangs use the maritime facilities as shipment and transhipment points for narcotics en route to the US and Europe.
Somalia: UAE military base to open in Somaliland in June
The UAE military base in Berbera, Somaliland state, is set to begin operations in June according to former ambassador to the UAE Bashe Awil Omar. Omar said the base aims to improve security on the key trade route. The base will be adjacent to the port run by UAE operator DP World. The base has caused divisions between the Federal Government and the Somaliland government, with Mogadishu stating it is unconstitutional as the decision for the base can only be taken by the Federal Government. Somaliland state is attempting to gain international recognition as an independent nation, although Mogadishu has rejected its claim to independence.
United Arab Emirates: Three men on trial for drug smuggling in Abu Dhabi
Three defendants went on trial at the Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance on charges of smuggling 12 mn narcotic captagon pills into the country. The three were arrested following a tip-off and the drugs were seized inside water tanks at an unnamed UAE port. The drugs had an estimated street value of USD 130 mn.
Source: Protection Vessels International Ltd