Maritime Incident Report: August 2021

Executive Summary

• 1 ship attacked off the coast of Somalia
• Ship boarded by Iranians off Fujairah UAE
• 2 ships boarded in Singapore Strait
• High-Risk Area (HRA) for Piracy reduced in size
• 5 passengers abducted in Rivers State Nigeria

Global Outlook: West Africa continues to be the focal point of piracy and kidnapping for ransom in the maritime domain, while in East Africa Somali piracy remains suppressed other more complex threats have emerged that threaten the safety of ships and seafarers in the Gulf of Aden, Southern Red Sea and Yemen. In the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz regional tensions have given rise to an increase of activity including the attack and boarding of vessels and harassment by state actors that is of cause for concern to commercial shipping. In SE Asia a total of 97 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in 2020. This accounts for a 17% increase in the total number of incidents, and a 32% increase in actual incidents reported in 2020 compared to 2019.

Regional Monthly Reports

1. West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea

Regional Situation: Kidnap for Ransom has become the modus operandi for criminals in the region, with incidents moving increasingly away from traditional locations in the Niger Delta to offshore with vessels being attacked up to 200nm from shore. Globally 135 crew were kidnapped from vessels in 2020 with the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) accounting for over 95% of crew numbers kidnapped. Since 2019, the GoG has experienced an unprecedented rise in the number of multiple crew kidnappings and in 2020 a record 130 crew members were taken in 22 separate incidents. Criminal activities in this region are particularly dangerous as over 80% of attackers were armed with guns and all 3 vessel hijackings and 9 of the 11 vessels fired upon globally in 2020 related to this area. Crew kidnappings were reported in 25% of vessel attacks in the GoG, more than any other region in the world. Once taken crews are removed from their vessel and can be held onshore until their release is negotiated. Ships are advised to exercise a high degree of caution if operating in the Gulf of Guinea, operators are reminded to regularly review their ship security assessment and plan using the International Ship and Facility Security Code (ISPS). Companies are also advised to maintain strict anti-piracy watches and report all pirate activity, including both actual and attempted attacks, as well as suspicious sightings, to local naval authorities and the MDAT-GOG. The use of BMP West Africa and OCIMF Bridge Cards are advised and provide a handy reference to aid in keeping ships safe.

Monthly Activity Report: A quiet month in the Gulf of Guinea with little criminal activity to report (see below). On 11 Aug the Gulf of Guinea partners completed a maritime security exercise in which the U.S. Navy deployed its expeditionary sea base, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams to the area to conduct combined maritime security capability training with the Nigerian and Spanish Navies and members of Ghana’s Special Boat Squadron (SBS).

West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea Incidents:

1. 16 Aug 21 0600UTC: Nigeria Psn 04 15 0N – 5 34 59E
1-speed boat with armed men on board approached the oil platform AUNTI JULIE. There was crossfire with armed personnel on a platform, then the speed boat escaped when a security vessel arrived in the area.

2. 10 Aug 21 0600UTC: Psn 00 13N – 002 19E
A bulk carrier reported a suspicious approach whilst sailing towards West Africa, approximately 250nm W of Sao Tome. The vessel carried out evasive manoeuvres to escape the area.

3. 10 Aug 21: Nigeria Psn 04 37 14N – 07 9 37E
5 people were abducted along the Bonny River close to the Federal Ocean Terminal, Onne. The people were abducted from a single outboard engine powered speedboat that can carry up to 10 passengers.

4. 1 Aug 21 2345UTC: Conakry Guinea Psn 09 16N – 013 49W
On the 31st July at 2245UTC, 3 intruders were spotted attempting to board an MV, twice the crew were able to repel the intruders (the first attempt was at 2320UTC and the second attempt at 2335UTC) with fire hoses. The crew was reported safe.

2. Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean

Regional Situation: Somali piracy remains suppressed but not eradicated, however, Pirate Action Groups (PAG) still have the intent and means to conduct criminal activity at sea. This is currently denied to them by the presence of international naval forces, the use of BMP5 measures by ships transiting the area and the deployment of Armed Security Teams on merchant ships provided by Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC). This combination of deterrents is vitally important if the status quo is to be maintained. Although piracy is in a controlled state other asymmetric threats have emerged that threaten the safety of seafarers in the region, spill over into the maritime domain from the Yemen conflict is of particular concern. The recent attacks against MT Stolt Apal and Gladiolus in the Gulf of Aden using Waterborne Improvised Explosive Devices (WBIED), have no obvious perpetrators (no one has claimed responsibility) but are likely linked to terrorist organisations (AQAP) operating in Yemen. Israel and Iran continue a series of Tit-for-Tat attacks against commercial vessels operated by both nations, culminating in an attack on an Israeli operated vessel in July in which two crew members were killed.

Monthly Activity Report: A vessel was attacked off the coast of Somalia which if confirmed, maybe the first reported piracy incident in the area since 2019 (see below). Houthi drone activity continues in Yemen with attacks conducted on a government airbase in the south of the country and on the area around the Red Sea port of Jizan in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A change in piracy threats in the Indian Ocean prompted the shipping industry to announce a re-think of High-Risk Area (HRA). Due to the continued downward trend in Somali piracy ‘Industry’ reduced the geographic boundaries of the ‘High-Risk Area’ (HRA) for piracy in the Indian Ocean, which will apply from 1 September 2021.

The new coordinates of the HRA are:

From position A (Latitude of 01 30’S on the Somali coast), a line to Position B (01° 30’ S –046° 00’ E), a line to Position C (01° 00’ N –049° 30’ E), a line to Position D (09° 00’ N –055° 00’ E), a line to Position E (14° 20’ N –057° 30’ E), a line to Position F (the Yemen coast at longitude 053° 00’ E). Follow the Yemeni coast westwards and northwards, to Position G (the Yemeni Red Sea coast at latitude 15° 00’ N), then a line to Position H (the Eritrea territorial sea border at latitude 15° 00’ N). Follow southwards first Eritrea’s and then Djibouti’s territorial sea borders, to Position I (the coastal border point between Djibouti and Somalia), then follow the Somali coast eastwards and then southwards, to Position A.

Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean Incidents:

1. 013 Aug 21 0445UTC: Psn 025848N – 0464405E
UKMTO posted an Advisory to shipping regarding a report of a vessel being attacked 100nm North East of MOGADISHU Somalia. The vessel, MV Anatolian was reportedly attacked by one skiff with 4 people on board with the closest point of approach 0.5 NM. The Private Security Team observed the vessel and there was an exchange of fire. After one hour the skiff turned away toward the coast. The vessel and the crew are safe with the MV Anatolian reportedly alongside Mogadishu.

3. Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz


Regional Situation: Simmering tensions between the US and its allies and the Islamic Republic of Iran boiled over during the middle of 2019.  The Trump administration pursued a ‘Max Pressure’ policy against Iran after it failed to stop its nuclear fuel enrichment programme which led to sanctions being placed against the export of Iranian oil.  In an apparent retaliation to the boarding of an Iranian oil tanker delivering crude to Syria (against the sanctions), the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) boarded and detained the UK flagged vessel Stena Impero.  4 ships were attacked at anchor off Fujairah UAE with what appeared to be limpet mines and 2 ships underway in the Northern Arabian Sea were also attacked by similar means.  In response to these actions, the international community formed the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) and the European Maritime Awareness Mission Strait of Hormuz (EMA SOH) both designed to reassure commercial shipping and deter state actors interference with the free flow of commerce through the SoH.  The situation remains tense with IRGC frequently stopping and hailing vessels during transits.

Monthly Activity Report: Ships continue to be contacted and occasionally boarded by Iranian naval forces as they transit the Strait of Hormuz, which has caused concern and unease in the merchant shipping community.  The International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) and EMA SOH continue to patrol the area in a reassurance role. UKMTO issued a number of Notices relating to regional military exercises and live firing events which can be viewed on their website at UKMTO.org.  

Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz Incidents:

1. 3 Aug 21 – 1230UTC: Psn 24 59 5N -57 28 6E
The Gulf of Oman, an oil tanker was boarded approximately 60nm east of Fujairah UAE. It was reported that 8-9 uniformed persons boarded Panama flagged vessel ASPHALT PRINCESS and ordered the ship to sail towards Iran. The vessel was held for several hours being released the ship and crew are safe.

4. Yemen and the Southern Red Sea


Regional Situation: A conflict has existed in Yemen since 2015 that has on occasion spilt over into the maritime environment particularly in the Southern Red Sea (SRS) littoral.  Iranian backed Houthi rebels have attacked warships and crude oil tankers linked to the Saudi led coalition who are supporting the internationally recognised Government of Yemen led by President Hadi.  The Houthis have deployed sophisticated weaponry including surface-to-surface missiles, sea mines and Waterborne Improvised Explosive Devices (WBIED) and have successfully engaged and caused damage to naval and targeted commercial ships.  The threat of collateral damage or attack through misidentification of merchant shipping transiting the Bab el Mandab and SRS is real and commercial ship operators are advised to follow current guidance given in BMP5 and by military sources.


Monthly Activity Report: Commercial ships are advised to increase vigilance when transiting this area and follow current guidance to stay as far west as possible from the Yemen coast, using the Western Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) around the Hanish Islands in the entrance to the Bab el Mandab strait

Yemen and the Southern Red Sea Incidents:

1. 30 Jul 21
Saudi forces claimed to have destroyed a Houthi drone in the port area of Jizan. Authorities said that a drone was aiming to target a Saudi vessel but was destroyed. An unconfirmed report has claimed that a vessel (named the MT Alberta) was the target of the attack.

5. South-East Asia


Regional Situation: Maritime crime in SE Asia and particularly in the Singapore Strait and Sulu-Celebes Seas, has traditionally manifested itself in incidents of armed robbery and theft from vessels at ports and anchorages.  Of specific concern in 2020 was the continued increase of incidents onboard ships while underway in the Singapore Strait, this numbered 34 incidents compared to 31 in 2019 and despite efforts by littoral states to increase patrolling and law enforcement.  

Monthly Activity Report: Attacks and attempted boardings of commercial shipping continue throughout the region, with theft and robbery of vessels at Manila anchorage, in particular, seeming to be on the rise. Two incidents took place in the Singapore Strait, an area that had recently appeared to have stabilised due to increased surveillance patrols by the Singapore and Indonesian naval and coastguard vessel.

South-East Asian Incidents:

1.  21 Aug 21 – 1900UTC: Psn 01 18 00N – 104 14 8E
Singapore Strait, A boarding occurred onboard a Liberia-flagged bulk carrier, GOOD LUCK I, while transiting along the westbound lane of TSS. The ship’s master reported 4 perpetrators boarded her vessel. Two of the perpetrators were holding knives and one of them threatened the engineer. The crew conducted checks and an investigation which found all the crew accounted for, no casualties were reported but some spare parts were reported missing. The vessel continued its passage.

2. 20 Aug 21 – 1420UTC: Psn 01 15N 104 06 5E
Singapore Strait, an unauthorised boarding occurred onboard a Bahamas-flagged bulk carrier, NEFELI, while transiting along the Eastbound lane of TSS, Singapore Strait. The ship’s master reported 4 perpetrators armed with knives boarded the vessel and confronted a crew in the engine room. The alarm was raised, and the crew conducted checks onboard. All crew accounted for and no casualties were reported. Some spare parts were reported stolen. The master did not report the incident immediately to the local authorities and continued to proceed to her NPOC.

3. 12 Aug 2021 – 1730UTC: Psn 14:32.6N – 120:54.8E
Manila Quarantine Anchorage, Philippines. 5 robbers armed with knives and guns boarded an anchored container ship. They took the duty AB hostage, tied his hands, threatened him, stole the ship’s stores and escaped. The incident was reported to the local authorities who boarded the vessel for investigations.

6. South America

Regional Situation: Priavo Security has observed an increase in the reporting of theft from vessel at anchorages or alongside in ports in South Americas’ Western Pacific region over the last 12mths.  A number of incidents have taken place particularly in Callao Peru and Guayaquil Ecuador.


South American Incidents:

1. 05 Aug 21 – 0612 UTC: Psn: 02:29.9S – 080:04.8W
Around 17nm SSW of Guayaquil, Ecuador, the duty crew onboard a container ship underway noticed a skiff with five persons onboard alongside the ship. The alarm was raised and local authorities notified. Seeing that the crew were alerted, the skiff moved away. Coast guard officers boarded and escorted the ship to a safe port.

2. 18 Aug 21 0130UTC
Bulk carrier boarded and robbed off Callao Peru. Seven suspects armed with knives have boarded an anchored bulk carrier where they tied up a crewmember before stealing the ship’s stores and fleeing the scene.

For More Information

At Priavo we understand the myriad of threats facing owners and operators today and deploy specialist teams for Super Yacht Security. Our operatives are all former members of the British Special Boat Service or ex-Royal Marine Commandos. They are highly trained, armed professionals in Maritime Security and provide both physical and electronic deterrence whilst on board – with experience of over 6,000 successful armed transits.

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