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Weekly Maritime Security Report

East Africa and the Indian Ocean

Yemen: Skiffs approach merchant vessel in Bab el-Mandeb

01 July

A merchant vessel transiting through the Bab el-Mandeb was approached by three skiffs each with five persons on board, during the early morning hours of 1 July. The incident occurred at approximately 1140 hrs local time. The three skiffs approached within 0.1 nm. The merchant vessel’s Armed Security Team showed their weapons and the skiffs proceeded to depart. The crew and the vessel were reported safe.

PVI analysis: Piracy and attacks are intermittently reported in the Bab el-Mandeb strait. Robbers are frequently armed and tend to use violence during robberies.

Southeast Asia

Indonesia: Robbers board bulk carrier in Tanjung Priok Port

30 June

An unspecified number of robbers boarded a berthed Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier during cargo operations in the port of Tanjung Priok in Jakarta. Duty Bosun on routine rounds noticed the padlock into the storeroom had been broken and proceeded to notify the Duty Officer at 0930 hrs local time. The alarm was raised and the crew mustered. Upon conducting a search, they discovered that the ship’s properties had been stolen. The incident was then reported to the local Port Authority. The Port Security Police and the Indonesian Coast Guard proceeded to board the ship in order to carry out an inspection.

PGI Analysis: Robberies are frequently reported at anchorages and off the coast of Indonesia. Assailants are sometimes armed, although they are typically easily deterred. Robberies typically occur overnight or in the early hours of the morning when robbers look to take advantage of reduced patrols and lowered visibility.

Malaysia: Indonesian robbers attempt to steal from vessel off Pengerang

16 June

According to late reports, at 0300 hrs local time, a Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) patrol sighted two wooden boats, both named Lima Sore, secured to a tanker that was anchored approximately 2.9 nm south of Teluk Ramunia, Pengerang. The patrol found four perpetrators who attempted to steal items, including scrap metal, from the tanker. All four perpetrators were arrested. However, two of them subsequently escaped by jumping overboard when one of the MMEA patrol boats broke down on the way back to the maritime base in Tanjung Pengelih. The two suspects who had escaped were later arrested in Pulau Batam, Indonesia, by Indonesian authorities.

PGI Analysis: Robberies are periodically reported off the coast of Malaysia. Most robberies are opportunistic though assailants have in the past used force to extract their demands. Coordinated patrols by Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore along with increased security on vessels have, however, seen a downturn in piracy in recent years.

West Africa

Togo: Armed bandits target Liberian-flagged container ship in Lome Anchorage

30 June

Six armed bandits onboard a boat attacked a Liberian-flagged container ship in Lome Anchorage at 2322 hrs local time. The duty officer aboard noticed the boat and raised the alarm. The crew then mustered and activated fire hoses against the approaching boat as the Master notified the Togo navy. The navy reportedly sent a patrol vessel to the scene and provided security for the container ship.

PVI Analysis: Incidents of piracy are periodically reported off the coast of Togo. Most robberies are opportunistic. However, in some cases, robbers are armed and tend to use force to attain their objectives.

Select Maritime News

China: Customs seize 1,500 tonnes of smuggled frozen food in Hebei

04 July

Customs seized over 1,500 tonnes of frozen food worth USD 7.3 mn in Shijiazhuang, the capital city of northern Hebei province, state-un Xinhua news agency cited local customs authorities as saying. Authorities arrested eight suspects and confiscated 52 containers at the port of Tangshan in the province on 28 June. The food, including frozen beef and beef tripe products, was smuggled from South Korea on 21 June. Authorities have launched an investigation into the seizure.

China: Customs seize 500 tonnes of smuggled sugar in Suzhou

07 July

Customs dismantled a sugar-smuggling network in the eastern city of Suzhou, seizing over 500 tonnes of sugar and arresting seven suspects, state-run Xinhua news agency cited customs as saying. The officials also seized one ship in the operation. Authorities have launched an investigation into the case. Authorities in Suzhou have intensified their efforts to crack down on smuggling of petroleum products and sugar in recent years. Customs in Suzhou have intercepted six sugar-smuggling networks since the start of 2018, seizing 2,758 tonnes of sugar worth about USD 9.6 mn, according to Xinhua.

Cyprus: Turkish vessel to begin drilling off coast

06 July

The Turkish energy minister said that a second Turkish drilling vessel would begin exploration for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean. The vessel would join one Turkish vessel already operating off the coast of Cyprus. The statement comes after the EU warned Turkey in June to end exploration in disputed waters near Cyprus or face action.

Honduras: Boat sinking kills 27 off northern coast

04 July

A fishing boat sunk about 40 nm off Cayo Gorda, the northern coast of Honduras, killing 27 people, navy officers said. Nine other people are missing and 55 others were rescued. Authorities said another fishing boat carrying 49 people also sunk in the same area just hours earlier, but all passengers were rescued. The incidents were caused by inclement weather, according to local authorities.

Iran: Tehran threatens to seize UK vessels in retaliation for tanker seizure

05 July

An Iranian council member threatened to seize a UK commercial vessel in a statement posted onto social media in retaliation for the detention of Iranian super-tanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar on 4 July. The tanker was suspected of carrying oil from Iran to Syria, a breach of EU sanctions. Following the seizure, the Iranian foreign ministry condemned the move as illegal. The council member did not confirm details of how Iranian forces would seize UK commercial vessels.

Pakistan: Boat capsizes, kills four in Khyber Paktunkhwa

04 July

A boat capsized in Khyber Paktunkhwa, killing at least four people with 21 others missing. The boat was reportedly carrying passengers along the Indus River from Shangla to Haripur district when it overturned. Officials said search and rescue operations are ongoing. The cause of the incident was unclear.

Tunisia: More than 80 migrants likely drowned after vessel capsizes off Zarzis

04 July

The UN said that as many as 80 migrants and refugees may have drowned after their vessel capsized off the coast of Tunisia near Zarzis as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean. Local fishing vessels rescued four individuals, one of whom later died, following the capsizing. According to officials, migrants said that their vessel had left Zuwara in Libya. Human smugglers, largely operating in Libya, often put migrants and refugees to sea in unseaworthy vessels.

United Arab Emirates: British vessel unharmed amid concerns over stop in Gulf

06 July

A British official said that a UK-flagged super tanker, Pacific Voyager, was safe after it stopped in the Gulf, prompting concerns that it had been detained by Iranian forces. The stop came a day after an Iranian official had threatened to seize a UK vessel in response to the seizure of an Iranian crude tanker off the coast of Gibraltar. The vessel had halted position while en route to Saudi Arabia to ensure a correct arrival time.

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Source: Protection Vessels International Ltd

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