Maritime Incident Report: December 2022

Executive Summary

• Vessels attacked in the Gulf of Guinea
• Two crew members kidnapped in Gulf of Guinea incident
• Vessel fired on in the Southern Red Sea
• Support Vessels boarded in Gulf of Mexico

1. Regional Monthly Report: West Africa and Gulf of Guinea

West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea 01

Monthly Activity

Two major incidents occurred in the east of the region this month, it is possible the events were linked and were the work of one Pirate Action Group. One vessel was attacked and another was boarded and the crew was kidnapped, see incident reports below.

Warnings to Shipping

None Issued.

Maritime Incidents

1. Armed Boarding/Kidnap – 13 December 2022 1007 UTC: Psn 02 34 77N – 09 1105E:
A vessel was reported to have been Hijacked by 9 armed assailants 44nm southeast of Bioko Island Equatorial Guinea. The vessel was later identified as the Fast Crew Boat FERNANDE which the owners had lost contact with earlier in the day. The pirates kidnapped two crew, stole portable communication equipment, and escaped. The remaining crew managed to navigate to a safe port and was escorted into the Port of Douala Cameroon on 14 December. Investigations are ongoing but the vessel is now safe.

2. Attack – 12 December 2022 0250 UTC: Psn 02 25 4N – 08 24 5E:
A Crude Oil Tanker was fired upon approximately 103nm west of Bata Equatorial Guinea. The vessel, which was later identified as Maran Poseidon, was underway when she was fired upon by unidentified persons in a skiff. The alarm was raised and the skiff aborted its approach and moved away. The vessel and crew are reported safe. 

2. Regional Monthly Report: Black Sea and Sea of Azov

Black Sea nad Sea of Azov 01 1

Monthly Activity

The risk of collateral damage from drifting mines in the Northwest, West, and Southwest areas of the Black Sea is still current. Russia reaffirmed its commitment to the Turkish-led grain export agreement. The operational status of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports is as follows:

•The Danube ports of Reni, Izmail and Ust-Dunaisk are open with some restrictions.
• Belgorod Dniestrovskiy is open with some restrictions.
• Odesa Port is open.
• Skadovsk port is closed.
• Chornomorsk is reported to be open. Grain export only.
• Pivdenny is closed.
• Yuzzhny Port is open.
• The port of Berdyansk is closed.
• Olbia (Mykolaiv) Port is closed. Cargo operations are suspended for commercial operations.
• Mariupol Port is closed. The city is controlled by Russian forces, the port is reported by the Russian military to be operational but it remains closed according to Ukraine’s Maritime Administration.
• Kherson Port is closed. Cargo operations are suspended for commercial operations.

Maritime Incidents

No Incidents to Report

3. Regional Monthly Report: Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean

Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean 1 01

Monthly Activity

At 0001 UTC on 1 January 2023 the Indian Ocean High Risk Area (HRA) for piracy was be removed. The removal of the HRA reflects a significantly improved piracy situation in the region. However, voyage preparation, threat and risk assessments are essential as is the implementation of Best Management Practice 5 (BMP5). The Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA) administered by UKMTO has not changed. Ships entering the VRA are still encouraged to report to the UKMTO and register with the Maritime Security Centre for the Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) in accordance with industry BMP (Best Management Practices). 

Maritime Incidents

No Incidents to Report.

4. Regional Monthly Report: Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz

Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz 01

Monthly Activity

There have been no maritime security incidents to report in this region in December, however, there are reports of several vessels awaiting payment and entrance to the ports of Iran which may create tension in the region. 

Maritime Incidents

No Incidents to Report.

5. Regional Monthly Report: Yemen and Southern Red Sea

Yemen and Southern Red Sea 01

Monthly Activity

The seven-month-long truce between the two factions involved in the Yemen conflict expired on the 2nd of October 2022. There have been no conflict-related security incidents reported in the SRS maritime domain since the ceasefire ended. According to the UKMTO, two skiffs fired at a vessel off the coast of Eritrea in the southern Red Sea on 10 December, this is the second incident in this location in the last two months (see report below). 

Maritime Incidents

1. Attack – 10 December 2022 0528 UTC: Psn 13 10 00N – 42 56 00E:
Two skiffs approached a vessel within approximately 1 nm and fired shots. The vessel’s Armed Security Team returned fire before the skiffs departed. The vessel and crew were reported to be safe. Subsequent investigation revealed a Turkish-owned motor yacht was approached within Eritrean TTW. Video footage shows the yacht’s Turkish Armed Security Team fired a number of warning shots at what was later identified as two Eritrean Maritime Force skiffs, armed with heavy machine guns. The Yacht continued its passage and the crew was unarmed.

6. Regional Monthly Report: South East Asia

South East Asia 01

Monthly Activity

There was a reduction in the number of boardings of vessels reported in this region this month, see the incident report below. 

Maritime Incidents

1. Boarding/Theft – 01 December 2022 1227 UTC: Psn: 01 03 16N – 103 38 23E: Singapore Straits:
Six robbers armed with knives boarded a bulk carrier that was transiting the Strait, they entered the engine room but the robbers were spotted by the duty watchman who immediately informed the bridge. The alarm was raised and the crew mustered. Seeing that the crew were alerted, the robbers escaped empty-handed. Singapore Coast Guard boarded the vessel to investigate. 

7. Regional Monthly Report: South America and Caribbean

South America 01

Monthly Activity

Two incidents involving Oil Platform supply vessels being boarded were reported in this region during December, see reports below. 

Incidents:

1. Boarding – 29 December 2022: Bay of Campeche, Mexico: 
In the early hours of 29 December, a group of six armed robbers boarded the spill response ship Bourbon Alienor, operated by Bourbon’s local subsidiary. They made off with SC Breathing Apparatus, tools, radios and other gear in a small boat. No one was reported injured in the incident. 

2. Boarding – 28 December 2022: Bay of Campeche, Mexico: 
A group of pirates reportedly boarded the Bourbon Artabaze, operated by the same local company as in the incident on 29 December. No further details were provided. 

3. Boarding – 20 December 2022 0745 UTC: Psn 12 00S – 077 12W: Callao Anchorage, Peru: 
Five robbers armed with knives boarded a product tanker via the anchor chain. They threatened one of the crew and held a knife to his throat and tied him up. The robbers forced their way into the forecastle store, stole the ship’s property and stores, and escaped. The crew member managed to free himself and alerted the bridge. The general alarm raised and the crew mustered. The incident was reported to the local port authorities. 

4. Boarding/Theft – 19 December 2022 0600 UTC: Psn 12 01 15S – 77 12 32W: Callao Anchorage, Peru: 
Two robbers armed with knives boarded an anchored vehicle carrier through the hawse pipe. They threatened a duty crew member and stole his mobile phone and VHF radio before escaping. The alarm was raised and the crew mustered. The incident was reported to port control. 

Global Outlook and Incident Summary 2021-2022

Figures released by the International Chamber of Commerce- International Maritime Bureau (ICC-IMB), show a significant drop in the number of maritime piracy and armed robbery/attacks reported in 2021 with 132 incidents recorded globally, the lowest level since 1994. In the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) maritime crime incidents dropped overall from 81 in 2020 to 34 in 2021. While maritime kidnappings dropped from 130 in 2020 to 57 in 2021, the GoG still accounts for 55% of all kidnappings reported worldwide in 2021. A combination of better inter-state cooperation in the Gulf of Guinea, new counter-piracy initiatives such as Nigeria’s ‘Deep Blue’ project and an increased international naval presence, appear to have restricted Pirate Action Group activities, particularly in Nigerian waters. What was evident, however, was a widening of the geographical area where maritime security events took place, incidents involving boarding and kidnap of crew increased in the East of the GoG as Nigerian based PAGs were forced to look for safer regions in which to operate. The waters around Sao Tome and Principe, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea all saw a rise in criminal activity while in the West of the region; the number of attacks was reduced, particularly in Ghana, Togo and Benin. 

In East Africa, Somali piracy remains suppressed with no incidents recorded in 2021. The complex threats that have emerged over the last 5 years in the Gulf of Aden, Southern Red Sea and Yemen continue to cause concern. In 2021, Iran and Israel engaged in a number of retaliatory strikes against vessels flagged to their respective nations culminating in the death of 2 crew members from an Israeli owned oil tanker, which was attacked by explosive-laden drones off the coast of Oman. In the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, regional tensions continue with Iranian forces maintaining pressure on International Maritime Forces engaged in operations to ensure the safe passage of commercial vessels. In SE Asia, boarding and robbery incidents in the Singapore Strait rose from 23 in 2020 to 35 in 2021, this is a 50% increase in 2020 and the highest since 1992, elsewhere in the region there was an overall drop in incidents compared with 2020. 

The region of the world with the highest growth rate of maritime crime was South America and the Caribbean Arc, ports in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and also Mexico and Haiti in the Caribbean, were all affected by incidents of boarding and robbery at sea. In 2021, 36 incidents were reported in the region compared to 30 in 2020, with 6 crew threatened, 4 taken hostage and 2 assaulted. 31 vessels were boarded in total, the majority at anchor; figures for the region include 3 attempted boardings and 2 vessels being fired upon. Incidents in the Peruvian anchorage of Callao more than doubled from 8 in 2020 to 18 in 2021. 

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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