Maritime Incident Report: June 2023

Our monthly Maritime Incident Report: June 2023 covers maritime security and incidents throughout the Indian Ocean, the Black Sea, West Africa, South East Asia and South America for the period 01/06/23 – 30/06/23.

Executive Summary

• Vessel boarded by armed robbers off Conakry, Guinea
• 8 Oil company employees were abducted in the Lagos Lagoon, Nigeria
• 2 Passenger boats attacked and 1 local killed in Rivers State, Nigeria
• Vessel approached by armed skiffs 20nm South of Port Saleef, Yemen
• Vessels attacked and 6 people abducted off Douala Anchorages in Cameroon

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

West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea

Monthly Activity

In what appears to be an upsurge in criminal activity in the region this month, 2 incidents took place in littoral waters that resulted in the abduction of a total of 14 people and the death of another. In Cameroon, 6 crew members of a small cargo vessel were abducted by unknown assailants prior to an attack on 2 fishing vessels anchored in the Wouri river. In Nigeria, 8 oil company workers (nationalities unknown) operating in the Lagos Lagoon were abducted. Also in Nigeria, 2 passenger boats were attacked by an armed group in Rivers State resulting in the death of a local woman. Elsewhere, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) issued a statement saying that a vessel had issued an alert indicating they had been attacked 60nm South of the Nigerian coastline (see reports below).

Maritime Incidents

1. Boarding/Abduction – 30 June 2023: Psn 040 00 05N – 09 38 00E: Douala Cameroon:
The Panama-flagged general cargo vessel OYA 1, was boarded by criminals last Friday at the Douala anchorage in Cameroon, resulting in six crewmembers being kidnapped. The vessel was approximately 0.8 nautical miles offshore at the time and had a 1.84m freeboard. The ship remains in the anchorage.

2. Attack – 30 June 2023 2140 UTC: Psn 04 00 05N – 09 38 00E: Douala Cameroon:
While transiting the Wouri River, around buoy 14, two Chinese fishing vessels, the HAILUFENG 13 and HAILUFENG 14 were approached by armed men on board several speed boats. The Cameroon military personnel on board the two fishing vessels responded to the attack and shooting. According to the initial report, 1 pirate was killed and 1 pistol and 1 magazine were recovered. The 2 fishing vessels sailed to Douala port after the incident.

3. Boarding/Theft – 28 June 2023 0555 UTC: Psn 04 53 3N – 01 38 6W: Takoradi Anchorage, Ghana:
The crew onboard an anchored container ship spotted 3 unauthorised people on the main deck. The alarm was raised and the crew were mustered. The port authorities were informed. On hearing the alarm the robbers escaped with some ship’s stores. The incident was reported to Takoradi port control and a patrol boat was sent to investigate.

4. Suspected Piracy Attack – 27 June 2023 1000 UTC: Psn 03 26 07N – 05 30 03E: 60nm South of Bonny Nigeria:
The IMB PRC received information indicating that an alert of a likely pirate attack had taken place near the Agbani Oil Field. No further information has been received at this time.

5. Abduction – 26 June 2023 1800 UTC: Psn 06 31 02N – 03 25 08E: Lagos, Nigeria:
8 oil workers from MRS Oil Nigeria were reportedly kidnapped by unknown gunmen near a jetty in Lagos Lagoon. The boat transporting the missing persons was later found at the Ikorodu Jetty area of the lagoon. It is presumed the workers were taken for ransom.

6. Boarding/Armed Robbery – 22 June 2023 0340 UTC: Psn 09 13 53N – 13 50 44W: Conakry Anchorage, Guinea:
4 robbers armed with guns boarded an anchored bulk carrier. The crew noticed the robbers and notified the duty officer who raised the alarm. The SSAS was activated and all the crew were instructed to remain in their cabins. The robbers entered the accommodation and stole some of the crew’s personal belongings and contents from the ship’s safe, prior to escaping in a waiting boat. One of the crew was injured with minor bruises during the incident. Port authorities were notified and a patrol boat was dispatched to the location for investigation.

7. Attack/Abduction – 05 June 2023: Psn 04 22 15N – 06 42 34E: Rivers State, Nigeria:
While transiting between Aboneba and Kula in Rivers State, 2 passenger boats with 12 people in each, were attacked. Numerous passengers jumped overboard during the attack to avoid being kidnapped. The 2 passenger boats were hijacked. It was reported later that 1 female passenger had been found dead in the river.

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

Black Sea nad Sea of Azov

Monthly Activity

On June 6, the Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine, located about 70 km upstream of Kherson, a port city on the Dnipro River, collapsed, sending an uncontrollable flow of water from its reservoir downstream. It remains to be seen what if any effect this will have on Ukrainian agricultural exports. In an unrelated action, an ammonia pipeline, which prior to the war had carried anhydrous ammonia from Tolyatti in Russia to the Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi (Yuzhny) near Odesa, was reportedly damaged. The risk of collateral damage from drifting mines in the Northwest, West, and Southwest areas of the Black Sea is still current. Mines have been reported in several locations in the Black Sea, most recently near Odesa in Ukraine and along the Northern Turkish coastline. 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

No incidents to report.

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

Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean

Monthly Activity

There have been no reports of maritime crime or other activity in this region during June.

Maritime Incidents

No incidents to report.

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

Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz

Monthly Activity

There have been no reports of maritime crime or other activity in this region during June.

Maritime Incidents

No incidents to report.

5. Regional Monthly Report: Yemen and Southern Red Sea

Yemen and Southern Red Sea

Monthly Activity

A vessel was approached by armed skiffs when transiting in the vicinity of Hodiedah, Yemen. It is most likely the approach was carried out by elements of the Houthi Coastguard. Vessel operators are advised to observe industry guidance for transiting the Southern Red Sea by using the main shipping lanes and staying as far west as possible from the Yemen coastline (see report below).

Maritime Incidents

1. Suspicious Approach – 27 June 2023: Psn 14 46 8N – 42 34 8E: 20 nm South of Port Saleef, Yemen:
An oil tanker, en route to FSO SAFER, reported that it was approached by 2 small craft which came within 50 meters of the ship on its port side. There appeared to be 4-6 armed men on each of the craft and the ship’s security team reported that the boats were equipped with heavy machine guns (50 Cal). No shots were fired. According to open-source reports, the 2 boats were supported by a larger ship 3nm west of Hodiedah port. The vessel increased speed and started evasive measures and the small craft left the scene.

6. Regional Monthly Report: South East Asia

South East Asia

Monthly Activity

The number of events this month is comparable to previous reporting periods, with the greatest number of events being robberies of vessels in the Singapore Strait. Regardless of whether the assailants are armed or not, their MO seems that they only want to steal the vessel’s equipment and stores. The location of incidents this month was concentrated in the Singapore Strait.

Maritime Incidents

1. Boarding – 26 June 2023 2000 UTC: Psn 01 42 2N – 101 28 7E: Dumai Inner Anchorage, Indonesia:
The duty crew onboard an anchored tanker noticed three robbers armed with steel bars near the engine room. The robbers saw the duty person and threatened to attack him, but the crewman managed to run away. The alarm was raised and a PA announcement was made, resulting in the robbers escaping without stealing anything. All crew members were mustered and a search was carried out.

2. Boarding/Theft – 23 June 2023 1630 UTC: Psn 01 16 47N – 104 11 87E: Singapore Straits:
Four unauthorised people boarded an underway bulk carrier and entered the engine room. The on-duty crew spotted the intruders and raised the alarm resulting in the perpetrators escaping with stolen engine stores. The Incident was reported to the authorities.

3. Boarding – 21 June 2023 1910 UTC: Psn 01 05 4N – 103 42 8E: Singapore Straits:
The duty engineer onboard a tanker under pilotage spotted two unauthorised people armed with knives trying to gain access to the steering gear room. Alarm raised, crew mustered and a search carried out. The incident was reported to VTIS and once anchored, the Singapore authorities boarded the tanker for investigation. All crew members are safe.

4. Boarding – 10 June 2023 1735 UTC: Psn 01 09 8N – 103 26 77E, Singapore Straits:
The duty engineer on board an underway bulk carrier spotted four unauthorized people in the engine storeroom and immediately informed the Master. The alarm was raised and the crew mustered resulting in the intruders escaping without stealing anything. The incident was reported to Singapore VTIS.

7. Regional Monthly Report: South America and Caribbean

South America

Monthly Activity

The first maritime security incident in some time was recorded in Ecuador this month.

Incidents:

1. Boarding/Robbery – 21 June 2023 0500-0905 UTC: Psn 12 02 09S – 077 11 08W: Callao Anchorage, Peru:
Robbers boarded an anchored bulk carrier and stole the ship’s stores and escaped. The theft was noticed by the duty crew on routine rounds. The incident was reported to the local agent.

2. Attempted Hijack – 10 June 2023 0215 UTC: Psn 02 54 2S – 80 33 2W: 21nm WSW of Posorja, Ecuador:
An unknown number of people in speed boats came alongside and attempted to board an underway container vessel using ladders. The alarm was raised and the crew mustered. The deck lights were switched on and evasive manoeuvres were carried out. The Coast Guard was notified and a patrol boat was sent to the location. Seeing the approaching patrol vessel, the persons aborted the attempted boarding and moved away.

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.

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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