Weekly Maritime Security Report – Week 4, 2019

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Protection Vessel Weekly has published this week’s maritime security report. We are into the 4th week of this year and the report shows the various security concerns in the maritime industry. The report was formulated on 30th January 2019.

Merchant vessel attacked in Brass, Nigeria

A skiff attacked a merchant vessel 35.9 nm off Brass at 2033 hrs local time. Further details of the incident were not disclosed, and it is unclear if the attack was successful.

Product Tanker Attacked by Pirates in Brass, Nigeria

A group of five to eight armed pirates attacked an underway product tanker at 1935 hrs local time 35 nm south-southwest of Brass. The pirates opened fire on the tanker, who raised general alarm, mustered non-essential crew and conducted evasive manoeuvres. Hardening measures resulted in pirates abandoning pursuit. There were no reports of casualties from the attack.

300 kg of cocaine Recovered along Skikda shores, Algeria

Coast guards patrolling a beach recovered 307 kg of cocaine that had washed ashore in northeastern Skikda Province. Local media suggested that the narcotics, which were hidden in backpacks, may have been abandoned by smugglers. Trafficking is common in Algeria, which is a major route for trafficking drugs into Europe, though seizures of this size are rare.

Heavy fog closes Red Sea ports

The Red Sea Ports Authority confirmed that the ports of Suez and Zeitiyat had been closed due to heavy fog impairing visibility. The ports are expected to remain closed until 24 January at the latest, dependent on weather conditions improving. Egypt’s Red Sea ports have witnessed sustained disruption over the past week due to sandstorms and general poor weather conditions.

Abiy secures funding for railway linking Addis Ababa to Massawa

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that the Italian government had pledged to fund the first phase of a study for a railway linking Addis Ababa with the Eritrean port of Massawa. Abiy made the announcement during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. The announcement comes amid an uptick in interest in Eritrean ports after a turnaround in relations between Asmara and Addis Ababa in mid-2018, opening the possibility for increased trade flows through Eritrea.

IED Kills Fishermen off Benghazi, Libya

A fisherman was killed by an IED when fishing off the western shores of the northeastern city of Benghazi. Blast fishing is common in Libya and leftover IEDs periodically kill or injure fishermen.

Inclement weather closes eastern oil ports in Libya

Bad weather has forced the closure of eastern oil ports, local media quoted sources as saying. Tankers were reportedly prevented from docking at Sidra and Brega ports. It was not immediately clear whether the closure had affected oil production.

Sidra oil port reopens in Libya

The Sidra oil port reopened after being closed for five days due to inclement weather, local media quoted an anonymous official as saying. The oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Brega remained closed, but the official said that the closures had not affected oil production as there was sufficient storage capacity.

3.18 kg of heroin seized at Tomasina, Madagascar

Authorities seized 3.18 kg of heroin from a cargo ship at Toamasina port. Customs reported it was the second drug seizure made at the port this year. The vessel had arrived at the port from Mauritius and the heroin was found under wooden flooring in the vessel. Drug traffickers use Toamasina port as a trans-shipment point for narcotics coming from Reunion and Mauritius.

Port Concession Awarded for Warri Old port, Nigeria

The federal government issued the Terminal B concession at Warri Old Port to Nigerian consortium Ocean & Cargo Terminal Services Limited. The concession is for USD 100.7 mn. The government has pushed for increased privatisation in the port management sector in a bid to increase efficiency and develop ports outside of Lagos.

Fuel tanker fire kills 20 near Kerch Strait, Russia

A fire on two fuel tankers killed at least 20 sailors near the Kerch Strait, off Crimea. Ten bodies were reportedly found while another ten sailors are reported missing and likely dead, Russian maritime sources reported. The crews of the two boats were composed of Indian and Turkish nationals. The fire reportedly started when one of the tankers was refuelling the other, Le Figaro reported. The incident comes amid heightened tensions in the Kerch Strait between Kiev and Moscow.

430 kg of cocaine seized at Leixoes port, Spain

Portuguese and Spanish police seized 430 kg of cocaine hidden in crates of bananas from Colombia in a joint operation at the port of Leixoes, Porto. Investigators said that the banana company was being used as a front by Colombian drug trafficking gangs. The tip-off for the seizure came from Spanish police, local media sources reported. Drug traffickers often use refrigerated fruit containers to smuggle drugs into Europe.

US warships pass through Taiwan amid China tensions

The US Navy sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait in the first such operation this year amid rising tensions between Taipei and Beijing. Taiwan’s defence ministry said in a statement the ships moved in a northerly direction and that their voyage was in accordance with regulations. The move comes amid Beijing’s attempts to assert its sovereignty over Taiwan, with China having stepped up pressure on Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen, from the pro-independence ruling party, took office in 2016. Beijing has regularly sent military aircraft and ships to circle the island on drills in the past few years.

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Source: Protection Vessel Weekly

 

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