Maritime Incident Report: February 2023

Our monthly Maritime Incident Report: February 2023 covers maritime security and incidents throughout the Indian Ocean, the Black Sea, West Africa, South East Asia and South America for the period 01/02/23 – 28/02/23.

Executive Summary

• A cargo ship sank during a severe storm in the Black Sea.
• A drifting sea mine exploded on Turkish Coast
• A Liberian-flagged tanker was targeted in an apparent suicide drone attack in the Arabian Sea
• Increase in armed boardings whilst at anchor in South America

Global Outlook and Incident Summary 2022

The International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (ICC IMB) annual report recorded 115 global incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in 2022, compared to 132 in 2021, with half of them occurring in Southeast Asian waters, particularly in the Singapore Straits, where incidents continue to rise.

In the Gulf of Guinea (GoG), piracy-related incidents dropped overall from 35 in 2021, to 19 in 2022. While maritime kidnappings in the GOG dropped from 57 in 2021 to just 2 in 2023, overall figures for all maritime crime events (including unarmed robbery and attempted robbery) fell from 52 to 32 overall. Interestingly, some of the cases of “pirated vessels” reported in 2022 are not following the usual modus operandi of pirate groups in the Gulf of Guinea as they turn to oil-related criminal activities such as theft, illegal refining and smuggling.

In East Africa, Somali piracy remains suppressed with no incidents recorded in 2022, the decline in piracy events in the region prompted the International Shipping Industry to remove the High-Risk Area (HRA) for Piracy in the Indian Ocean. It remains to be seen how this will affect the security of shipping in the area. The complex threats that have emerged over the last 5 years in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and Yemen continue to cause concern, with further Drone attack incidents taking place against ships in the Gulf of Oman and Eastern Yemeni oil terminals, last year. There has also been an increase in the number of aggressive approaches by military vessels against pleasure craft in the Southern Red Sea.

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 35 in 2021 to 38 in 2022, elsewhere in the region there was an overall drop in incidents compared with 2021. In the Black Sea, mines and military activity continue to pose a threat to commercial shipping.

Maritime crime incidents in the Americas and the Caribbean Arc reduced slightly from 131 in 2021 to 121 in 2022. Ports in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, plus Mexico and Haiti in the Caribbean, were all affected by incidents of boarding and robbery, most of these events were from vessels at anchor. Callao anchorage in Peru remains the hotspot for robbery at anchor with 12 reported incidents, although that is down slightly on 2021 figures.

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

West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea

Monthly Activity

There were no maritime security incidents to report in this region during February.

Maritime Incidents

No incidents to report.

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

Black Sea nad Sea of Azov

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, and 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

1. Sinking – 21 February 2023:
One crewmember died and another is reportedly in critical condition after a cargo ship broke in half and sank during a severe storm in the Black Sea (see photo below). Russian officials confirmed that there were 11 crew operating the 108-metre vessel when it went down. The crew are all Russian nationals. The Comoros-flagged 3,200DWT general cargo vessel Seamark was reportedly anchored off the city of Novorossiysk when the storm hit. The weather system brought 40-knot winds and waves around three metres high.

2. Conflict Incident – 14 February 2023:
Turkish media outlets claimed that a drifting sea mine exploded near Agva on the Black Sea coast. This incident is recorded as the first explosion of a sea mine on the Turkish Coast in the Black Sea. The Turkish media claims that a restaurant has slight damage due to the explosion, and there were no reported casualties.

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

Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean

Monthly Activity

The Tanker Campo Square was targeted by a suicide drone in the North Arabian Sea (see report below). This is another in a series of drone attacks against Israeli-owned tankers operating in the region. Official US military sources say the drone was likely operated by Iranian forces.

Maritime Incidents

1. Drone attack – 10 February 2023:
A Liberian-flagged Tanker owned by an Israeli shipping company was targeted in an apparent suicide drone attack. US sources said the attack on Campo Square is likely to have been perpetrated by Iranian military units. Eletson, the vessel operator, confirmed that the vessel was in a ballast transit when she was hit by an airborne object in the Arabian Sea, approximately 300 nautical miles off the coasts of India and Oman. Eletson confirmed that both the vessel and crew were safe but the vessel had received minor damage.

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

Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz

Monthly Activity

There were no maritime security incidents reported in this region during February.

Maritime Incidents

No Incidents to Report.

5. Regional Monthly Report: Yemen and Southern Red Sea

Yemen and Southern Red Sea

Monthly Activity

There were no maritime security incidents reported in this region during February.

Maritime Incidents

No incidents to report.

6. Regional Monthly Report: South East Asia

South East Asia

Monthly Activity

There were a number of reports of boardings of vessels both at anchor and while underway throughout the region this month. See incident reports below.

Maritime Incidents

1. Boarding/Theft – 14 February 2023: 2110 UTC: Psn 01 15 7N – 104 123 E, Singapore Strait:
Two robbers armed with knives boarded an underway bulk carrier and entered the engine room. The robbers were spotted and the alarm was raised and the crew mustered. A search was carried out and engine stores were reported stolen. All crew members are safe.

2. Boarding/Theft – 8 February 2023 0930 UTC: Psn 01 11 50N – 103 51 74E: Singapore Strait:
Four unauthorised people boarded a barge that was under tow. They stole some of the scrap metal cargo and escaped. All crew members were reported safe.

3. Boarding/Theft – 01 February 2023 0630 UTC: Psn 01 17 57N – 104 10 52E: South of Pengerang Terminal, Malaysia:
Three unauthorised people were seen boarding a barge that was under tow. The incident was reported to the Malaysian Coast Guard and a patrol boat intercepted the tug and barge for investigation. The cargo of scrap metal was reported stolen. All the crew members were reported safe.

7. Regional Monthly Report: South America and Caribbean

South America

Monthly Activity

Three maritime security incidents were reported in this region during February, see reports below.


1. Armed Boarding – 28 February 2023: 0245 UTC: Psn 00 05N – 50 58W: Macapa Anchorage, Brazil: 
Five robbers armed with long knives boarded an anchored bulk carrier. The duty crew on routine rounds noticed the robbers near the forecastle and informed the duty officer. The alarm was raised and the ship’s horn sounded, the crew mustered and the port control was notified. Hearing the alarm and seeing the crew were alerted but the robbers escaped with stolen ship’s stores.

2. Armed Boarding – 21 February 2023 0548 UTC: Psn 12 01 4S – 77 13 2W: Callao Anchorage, Peru: 
Three robbers armed with knives boarded an anchored tanker, they stole the ship’s stores and escaped. The alarm was raised, the ship’s horn was sounded, and the crew mustered. The incident was reported to the Port Authorities and a patrol boat was dispatched to search the waters around the ship.

3. Attempted Boarding – 12 February 2023 0830 UTC: Psn 12 17 4N – 72 01 7W: Puerto Bolivar Anchorage, Colombia: 
Two people in a motorized boat approached an anchored bulk carrier and attempted to board using a rope attached to a hook. The duty crew member noticed the attempt and notified the bridge. The alarm was raised and the ship’s horn sounded. Hearing the alarm, the assailants aborted the attempted boarding and moved away. The Incident was and a patrol boat responded and searched the waters around the vessel.

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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