Maritime Incident Report: January 2024
Our monthly Maritime Incident Report: January 2024 covers maritime security and incidents throughout the Indian Ocean, Europe, West Africa, South East Asia and South America for the period 01/01/24 – 31/01/24.
In our monthly regional overview of significant maritime events, we cover security incidents affecting shipping operations from around the globe.
• Europe. There were no maritime security incidents reported in this region during January but the security threat to commercial ships trading in Ukrainian ports remains significant. The Romanian, Bulgarian and Turkish governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding to counter the threat of sea mines in the Black Sea.
• The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Houthi attacks on commercial and naval vessels continue to present a major threat in this region. Despite US and UK attempts to degrade the Houthi’s capability to launch aerial munitions, attacks have continued albeit at a reduced frequency.
• The Indian Ocean, The Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. There was a surge in hijackings and piracy incidents reported in the Indian Ocean during January. A Sri Lankan fishing vessel and a commercial bulk carrier were boarded by pirates while suspicious approaches by suspected pirates were reported by vessels over a wide area of the Indian Ocean.
• West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea. Four incidents of significance took place in the Gulf of Guinea during January as the reduction in maritime crime reported in 2023 continued into the new year.
• The South China Sea. The reduction in the number of maritime security incidents reported in the Singapore and Malacca Straits in Q4 2023 continued in January 2024. Elsewhere in the region, boarding and robbery while at anchor remains the primary security threat to commercial ships.
• South America and the Caribbean Sea. Petty theft crimes against pleasure craft continues throughout the Islands of the Caribbean.
1. Regional Report: Europe
Russia’s regional maritime dominance is increasingly in question as its fleet is being eliminated one ship at a time by Ukrainian missiles and drones. However, there remains a significant risk to ships trading in Ukrainian ports, particularly those operating in the Danube delta, from sea mines. This prompted a response from Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey who signed a Memorandum of Understanding to form a task group to clear mines floating mines in the Black Sea.
Nothing significant to report.
Operational Status of Ukraine’s Black Sea Ports
•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 open.
• The port of Berdyansk is closed.
• Mykolaiv (Olvia) 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.
2. Regional Report: Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea
There continues to be a high degree of risk to commercial vessels transiting the Southern Red Sea between 12N and 16N. Houthi attacks against shipping have continued despite US/UK airstrikes against Houthi missile launch sites and radar infrastructure. Many ship operators have diverted their assets away from the area and are now routing around the Cape of Good Hope. Since the UK/US airstrikes on 12 January, there has been a reduction in the frequency of Houthi attacks and a marked shift of attack location from the Red Sea to the western Gulf of Aden. Ships with links to Israel, the UK and US are understood to be at the greatest risk from Houthi attack.
1. Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 02 Jan 2024:
The Maltese flagged container vessel CMA/CJM TAGE observed 3 explosions 33nm northeast of Assab, Eritrea. No damage was reported.
2. Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 06 Jan 2024:
The Singapore flagged vessel RONG LIN WAN was approached by a UAV 50nm south of Mocha, Yemen.
3. Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 09 Jan 2024:
The Marshall Islands flagged vessel CARAVOS HARMONY was attacked by a UAV in the Southern Red Sea. The UAV was shot down by a warship operating with operation PROSPERITY GUARDIAN.
4. Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 09 Jan 2024:
The Singapore flagged vessel FEDERAL MASAMUNNE was approached by 3 suspicious small craft in the Southern Red Sea. Missiles were fired towards the ship but none hit the vessel.
5. Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 12 Jan 2024:
A missile was fired towards the Panama flagged tanker KHALISSA 90nm southeast of Aden. The missile missed the ship and exploded 500 meters from the ship.
6. Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 15 Jan 2024:
The US owner bulk carrier GIBRALTAR EAGLE was hit by a missile 110nm southeast of Aden, which caused a fire in the hold. The fire was contained and no injuries were reported.
7. Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 16 Jan 2024:
The Maltese flagged bulk carrier ZOGRAFIA was hit by a missile in the Southern Red Sea 105nm northeast of Al Saleef, Yemen. No injuries were reported.
8. Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 17 Jan 2024:
The Marshall Islands flagged bulk carrier, GENCO PICARDY came under UAV drone attack, the drone did not impact the ship and no injuries were reported.
9. Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 18 Jan 2024:
The Marshall Islands flagged tanker CHEM RANGER, was attacked by a UAV 115nm southeast of Aden. The drone missed the ship.
10. Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 24 Jan 2024:
The Liberian flagged bulk carrier TOMAHAWK was attacked by a UAV drone in the Southern Red Sea, the drone missed the ship and no one was injured.
11. Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 24 Jan 2024:
The MAERSK DETROIT and MAERSK CHESAPEAKE were attacked by a missile while being accompanied by a US warship, the incident took place 50nm southeast of Mocha, Yemen, The US warship destroyed the missile. After this incident Maersk announced they would divert all their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope until further notice.
12. Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 26 Jan 2024 :
A US warship destroyed an incoming missile. The USS CARNEY intercepted the missile 60nm southeast of Aden.
13. Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 26 Jan 2024 :
The Marshall Islands flagged bulk carrier MARLIN LUANDA, was hit by a missile 60nm southeast of Aden. The vessel developed a fire in the hold which was later extinguished with assistance from the Indian Navy.
14. Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. 28 Jan 2024:
The Royal Navy warship HMS DIAMOND intercepted and destroyed a UAV, 144 nm northwest of Hodiedah.
3. Regional Report: The Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea
In January 2024, there was a surge in maritime security incidents that took place across a wide area of the IO and GOA region. It is likely fishing vessels hijacked by Somali gangs have been used as mother ships to support piracy attacks up to 800nm into the Indian Ocean. On January 2024, the EU Naval Force counter-piracy, Operation ATALANTA released an Alert to commercial shipping stating that two Pirate Action Groups (PAG) are highly likely operating in the Indian Ocean. The first one is in an area approximately 600 nm east-southeast of Socotra Island, the second one is in an area around 00 34 N – 061 29 E. Both PAGs could include a mother ship and several skiffs. MSCHOA advised vessels to keep well clear of this position and to exercise extreme caution if in the vicinity.
1. Arabian Sea. 02 Jan 2024:
MSCHOA reported that a fishing vessel (FV) was hijacked by pirates near the town of Quandala, Somalia. No further details were provided.
2. Arabian Sea. 04 Jan 2024:
At least five unknown armed assailants reportedly boarded the Liberian-flagged bulk carrier. LILA NORFOLK approximately 460 NM (850 km, 530 miles) east of Eyl, Somalia. The crew mustered in the citadel and were rescued 12 hrs later after the arrival of an Indian warship. The assailants are believed to have left the ship before the warship arrived. The crew consisted of fifteen Indian nationals, all of whom we reported to be unharmed.
3. Arabian Sea. 10 Jan 2024:
A fishing vessel which was operating about 430nm east of Eyl, Somalia was approached by two vessels. The crew witnessed around three men getting into a skiff which began to approach the FV. The skiff approached the fishing vessel to within 800 meters. The armed security team on board the fishing vessel showed their weapons and the skiff aborted its approach and left the area.
4. Arabian Sea. 12 Jan 2024:
Two Yemeni FVs were hijacked off Eyl, Somalia. No further details were given.
5. Arabian Sea. 24 Jan 2024:
A MV reported a Suspicious Approach by one skiff in position 05 30 N 065 48 E. One ladder has been seen on board. the vessel’s security team fired warning shots during the suspicious approach, causing the skiff to move away. The skiff then headed towards what appeared to be a mother ship.
6. Arabian Sea. 27 Jan 2024:
UKMTO reported an incident involving a small craft and a merchant vessel 780nm east of Hafun, Somalia. A vessel was approached by a small craft with four armed persons onboard. Automatic rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade were sighted. The small craft approached within 300 meters, until the onboard security team fired warning shots and the small craft retreated.
7. Arabian Sea. 27 Jan 2024:
A Sri Lankan fishing vessel (FV LORENZO PUTHA 4) operating approximately 750nm east of the Somalian coast, in the Indian Ocean, reported being approached by one skiff. A follow-up report released by MSCHOA stated that the vessel had been hijacked and was heading in the direction of the African coast.
8. Arabian Sea. 29 Jan 2024:
Six crew members from the Sri Lankan FV LORENZO PUTHA 4, which was hijacked by suspected pirates, were rescued by the Seychelles Coastguard 230nm northeast of Mahe Island, Seychelles Islands. Three suspected Somali pirates have been detained. The crew members were unharmed.
4. Regional Report: West Africa and Gulf of Guinea
There was a slight rise in the number of incidents reported in the Gulf of Guinea during January. The first piracy and kidnapping event of 2024 took place south of Bioko Island Equatorial Guinea and three robberies also took place in Angolan ports.
1. Equatorial Guinea. 01 Jan 2024, 45nm South of Bioko Island:
Six pirates armed with guns boarded a tanker underway and opened fire on the bridge to gain access. They kidnapped nine crew members including the Captain and Chief Engineer. The remaining crew sailed to a safe port after the pirates departed and reported the incident to the Authorities.
2. Angola. 03 Jan 2024, Luanda Anchorage:
Three robbers in a canoe approached and boarded an anchored firefighting vessel. They stole ship’s property and escaped. The theft was noticed during routine rounds in the morning hours.
3. Angola. 07 Jan 2024, Luanda Anchorage:
Five persons in a small fishing boat approached and boarded an anchored product tanker. Security watchmen onboard the tanker noticed the unauthorised persons and raised the alarm. Seeing the crew were alerted, the persons escaped with the stolen ship’s properties. The incident was reported to the port control.
4. Angola. 14 Jan 2024, Soyo Anchorage:
Thieves boarded an anchored offshore supply vessel and stole ship’s property and escaped. The theft was noticed during routine rounds in the morning hours.
5. Regional Report: South East Asia
Maritime Security incidents centred around the Singapore and Malacca Straits with four reports of boarding and theft taking place on commercial ships.
1. Indonesia. 03 Jan 2024, Dumai Anchorage:
Three robbers armed with guns and knives boarded an anchored general cargo ship. They took the duty engineer as hostage and tied his hands. The robbers stole ship’s engine spare parts and escaped. The duty crew managed to alert the OOW who raised the alarm. The crew mustered and a search was carried out. No robbers were found onboard.
2. Indonesia. 12 Jan 2024, Dumai Anchorage:
The security patrol onboard an anchored tanker noticed five unauthorised persons attempting to board the ship and immediately notified the OOW. The alarm was raised, resulting in the persons leaving the vessel. Nothing was reported stolen. The incident was reported to the port control and the pilot station.
3. Singapore. 03 Jan 2024, Singapore Strait:
Five robbers armed with long knives boarded a bulk carrier. They entered the engine room and took hostage the third engineer (3/E), blindfolded him, secured his hands and punched him on his forehead forcing him to kneel. The robbers stole engine spares and escaped. The 3/E managed to enter the engine control room and raised the alarm. A search was carried out. The incident was reported the Singapore authorities boarded the ship for inspection.
4. Singapore. 09 Jan 2024, Singapore Strait:
Five robbers armed with a knife boarded a bulk carrier. They took hostage and tied up one of the crew. The alerted crew raised the alarm and the crew mustered. Hearing the alarm, the robbers escaped with stolen ship’s engine spare parts.
6. Regional Report: South America and Caribbean
Petty theft crimes against pleasure craft continued throughout the Islands of the Caribbean.
1. Caribbean. 25 Jan 2024, Grenada, Mt. Hartman Bay Marina:
The owners of a catamaran docked at Secret Harbor Marina discovered their standup paddleboard had been stolen from their deck overnight. A report was made to the Marina. Several days later a swimmer noticed the SUP and a missing kayak hidden along the nearby mangroves and advised the marina, who came and collected it.
2. Caribbean. 29 Jan 2024, Sint Maarten, Cole bay:
The owner of a dinghy found the fuel tank had been stolen from the dinghy which was locked to the dock. They later learned that 3 others had suffered a similar fate. The security guard did not notice the thefts. Overnight three other dinghies were stolen from yachts.
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.