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Protection Vessels International: Weekly Maritime Security Report

Southeast Asia

Philippines: Robbers board tanker in Batangas anchorage

26 March

Robbers boarded a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker anchored in Batangas Bay by breaking the padlock of the anchor chain pipe at 2030 hrs local time. Crew sighted the intruders and raised the alarm, prompting the robbers to jump overboard with a stolen ship bell.

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.

West Africa

Nigeria: Robbers board oil tanker at Lagos Anchorage

24 March

Two robbers boarded an oil tanker at 2135 hrs local time at Lagos anchorage and stole about 70 mt of fuel from the vessel using a hose pipe. A watch keeper on duty noticed the hose pipe and informed the vessel’s master. The robbers fled on a boat upon seeing the alerted crew. The incident was reported to a Nigerian navy patrol boat in the vicinity that captured the robbers after chasing and exchanging fire with them. All crew were reported safe.

PGI Analysis: The threat of piracy to vessels docked or waiting to berth at Lagos is high, and incidents within the area are frequently reported. Criminals typically target vessels waiting in the port complex where security is poor and theft, robberies and unauthorised boarding are regularly reported. Assailants are sometimes armed and can use force against crew and security forces.

Australia: Employees of Hutchison Ports launch strike in Sydney, Brisbane

08 April

Unionised dock workers employed by Hutchison Ports in Sydney and Brisbane have gone on a 24-hour strike over a job outsourcing dispute. Trade unions representing the dock workers have called the work stoppage in response to a decision by the company’s management to outsource jobs overseas. The action is likely to disrupt port operations throughout the day. Hutchinson Ports employees have staged a series of strikes over working conditions in recent months.

Belgium: Authorities arrest three Antwerp port staff over cocaine smuggling

03 April

Federal police have arrested three Antwerp port employees over their alleged participation in cocaine smuggling. The suspects allegedly moved containers with cocaine from South America to avoid checks. Police expect further arrests at the port, local media reported. Customs officers have confiscated 50 tonnes of cocaine at Antwerp port in 2018 and cocaine smuggling remains a threat to port operations.

Brazil: Authorities seize 500 kg of cocaine at Navegantes port

02 April

Authorities seized more than 500 kg of cocaine hidden inside a stone slate cargo container at Navegantes port, Santa Catarina state. Authorities found the narcotics during a risk analysis operation of containers at the port, officials said. The narcotics were bound for Antwerp port in Belgium.

Brazil: Authorities seize 1 tonne of cocaine at Paranagua port

04 April

Authorities seized 1 tonne of cocaine hidden inside a plywood cargo container at Paranagua port. Authorities confiscated the narcotics after port workers identified the drugs while handling the container. Authorities have seized more than 5 tonnes of cocaine at Paranagua port in 2019, exceeding the total volume of narcotics seized at the port in 2018. The narcotics were bound for Antwerp port in Belgium.

Brazil: Bridge collapse to affect northern goods transportation

06 April

A bridge forming part of Highway PA-483 collapsed after a boat struck one of its support pillars at approximately 0730 hrs local time. The highway forms a key link between farmland in the centre-west and Brazil’s northern ports. A spokesman for the Vila do Conde river port confirmed that operations at the port would be impacted by the collapse, as the highway was the only overland route to the port, through which some 20 percent of Brazil’s soybean production is exported.

Canada: Authorities seize 100 kg of cocaine at Montreal port

02 April

Authorities seized 100 kg of cocaine hidden inside a furniture container at Montreal port. Authorities found the narcotics as a result of an ongoing investigation into drug gangs, officials said. The cocaine reportedly originated from Mexico. Two people were arrested in connection with the case.

Egypt: Navy seizes 2 tonnes of heroin off eastern coast

04 April

The navy seized 2 tonnes of heroin and 99 kg of crystal methamphetamine from a European-flagged vessel off the Red Sea coast, officials said. The ship’s seven crew members, all foreign nationals, were arrested in the operation. Their nationality was not disclosed. The Red Sea serves as a transit point for Afghan heroin trafficked through Pakistani and Iranian ports into Europe and other destinations.

Malaysia: Authorities find 41 Rohingya migrants at Sungai Belati beach

08 April

Authorities detained 41 Rohingya men and boys near the town of Simpang Empat. The migrants had arrived at Sungai Belati beach. Police believe up to 200 Rohingya migrants might still be at sea trying to reach the country. Officials believe the migrants travelled from Myanmar or Bangladesh. An outbreak of sectarian violence in Rakhine in 2012 prompted tens of thousands of Rohingya to flee Myanmar by sea.

Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur, Singapore suspend overlapping port limits

08 April

The Malaysian and Singaporean governments mutually suspended the implementation of their overlapping port limits. The two countries have been engaged in a dispute over Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas after Malaysia unilaterally extended the Johor Baru port limits in October 2018. The move prompted Singapore to extend its port limits within its territorial waters. Both countries also agreed not to authorise and to suspend all commercial activities in the area, as well as not to anchor any government vessels there. The port limits in effect prior to 25 October and 6 December will now apply. The measures aim to reduce tensions in a long-running maritime dispute between the two countries.

Mali: Boat capsizes, kills 10 in Ségou region

08 April

A boat capsized killing 10 people and injuring several others near Markala, Ségou region. The passengers were reportedly transporting produce to the local market in Markala, local media reported. Overloading caused the boat to capsize, according to authorities. Boat accidents are common in Mali due to poor enforcement of safety regulations.

Pakistan: Authorities seize 1,000 kg of cannabis near Ormara

04 April

The navy seized around 1,000 kg of hashish cannabis in the open sea near Ormara, Baluchistan. Authorities handed the seized contraband over to anti-narcotics forces. No further details were available at the time of writing. Baluchistan, bordering Afghanistan and Iran, has long been used by smugglers as a key transit point for smuggling narcotics globally.

Philippines: Manila denounces presence of Chinese vessels near disputed island

04 April

The Philippines said that the presence of hundreds of Chinese ships near the disputed island of Pag-asa in the South China Sea is illegal. The rebuke comes after the Philippine military reported sighting at least 275 Chinese fishing and coast guard vessels in the area in the first three months of 2019. The statement marks rare public criticism of Beijing by Manila, which have strong economic ties.

Romania: Authorities investigate 130 kg cocaine seizure along Black Sea

07 April

Police have started investigating recent incidents of cocaine washing ashore along the Black Sea coast following a seizure of 130 kg of cocaine. Authorities suspect the packages are part of a cocaine shipment which was seized from an abandoned boat in the Danube delta on 23 March. Romania is a major entry point for drugs trafficked into Europe.

Singapore: Authorities seize 12.9 tonnes of pangolin scales

03 April

Customs authorities seized a shipment of 12.9 tonnes of pangolin scales and 177 kg of elephant ivory from a container packed with frozen beef at the Pasir Panjang Export Inspection Station, officials said. Officials said that the shipment was en route to Vietnam from Nigeria. Seizures of endangered species parts are rare in Singapore. The last seizure of pangolin scales in the country was in 2016.

South Korea: Seoul detains cargo ship for trading with North Korean vessel

03 April

South Korea’s foreign ministry revealed that it has been holding a domestic cargo ship at the port of Busan since October 2018 on suspicion that the vessel illegally traded with North Korea, violating UN sanctions. The vessel is believed to have carried out ship-to-ship oil transfers with a North Korean vessel in international waters. According to South Korean officials, this is the first time that a domestic vessel has been detained for violating UN sanctions. South Korean authorities have detained three other foreign vessels on similar charges.
Source: Protection Vessels International Ltd

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