Maritime Incident Report: March 2022

Executive Summary

▪ MDAT-GOG released warnings of a possible increase in piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea
▪ Houthis launch an aerial offensive on Saudi Red Sea oil facilities
▪ Boarding and theft continue unabated in the Singapore Strait
▪ Several conflict-related incidents were reported involving commercial ships in the Black Sea

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. 

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

West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea 01

Monthly Activity

March 2022 has seen the lowest recorded level of monthly maritime security incidents in the last 18mths. There were no reported incidents of piracy attacks although two threat warnings were issued by the MDAT-GOG, (see links below). 

Warnings to Shipping

WARNING 001/MAR/2022 
WARNING 002/MAR/2022 

Maritime Incidents

1. Boarding – 19 Mar 22: Psn 06 26 0N – 03 23 0E 
At 0445UTC, a theft occurred on an unnamed MV whilst berthed at Lagos port. 

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

Black Sea nad Sea of Azov 01 1

Maritime Incidents

1. Conflict Incident – 01 Mar 22 
A Bangladeshi flagged bulk carrier was struck by a Russian missile at Ukraine’s Olbia port near Mykolaiv, the port authority says; no injuries were reported but there were reports that the ship was on fire. 

2. Conflict Incident – 03 Mar 22  
A Tanker hit a mine near the Port of Odessa, the tanker “Helt” appeared to have struck a mine near the port. Two crew members managed to escape on a raft, four are reported missing. 

3. Conflict Incident – 07 Mar 22 
Ukrainian forces claim to have targeted a Russian vessel off the coast of Odessa.

4. Conflict Incident – 20 Mar 22
Four Russian warships were reported to be firing missiles at the port of Mariupol. 

5. Conflict Incident – 23 Mar 22 
Turkish authorities warned against drifting mines in the Black Sea. The Samsun NAVTEX station of the Turkish Naval Forces’ office of navigation issued a statement on March 21 warning ships in the Black Sea against the mines. It was reported that the approaches of the ports Odessa, Ochakov, Chernomorsk and Yuzhnyy were mined. 

6. Conflict Incident – 25 Feb 22 
The Japanese bulk carrier NAMURA QUEEN was hit by a missile at the Port of Yuzhniy, Odessa Oblast. The superstructure was hit, inflicting serious damage. Two or more crew were injured.  

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

Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean 01

Monthly Activity

There were no reported incidents in the region this month. This is most likely due to a combination of sea state and weather conditions resulting from the Northeast Monsoon which is dominating the region at the moment and preventing small craft from putting to sea. 

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

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.

Maritime Incidents

No incidents to report.

5. Regional Monthly Report: Yemen and Southern Red Sea

Yemen and Southern Red Sea 01

Monthly Activity

There has been a considerable number of ‘Yemen Conflict’ related incidents in the region this month, the Houthi began an aerial offensive on the 19th March against Saudi cities including the port cities of Jazan, Yanbu and Jeddah. The targets for these attacks appear to be Saudi oil production and storage facilities, Saudi Aramco’s infrastructure has received significant damage (see reports below). The proximity of many oil production sites to the port area creates a significant threat of collateral damage being done to commercial shipping alongside these locations, however, it is clear that commercial ships are not the intended target. The Saudi led coalition also reported that they had intercepted Waterborne IED craft in the Southern Red Sea close to the Yemeni ports of Hodeida (see reports below). The US Navy also report that the Houthis had fired a missile in the Red Sea, no other details were given. 

Maritime Incidents

1. Conflict Incident – 24 Mar 22: Psn 16 52 40N – 42 38 7E 
A Houthi ballistic missile was intercepted by Saudi air defences near Jizan. 

2. Conflict Incident – 24 Mar 22: Psn 21 30 60N – 39 13 26E 
A large fire was reported at the Saudi Aramco facility in Jeddah, the site is believed to be the North Jeddah Bulk Plant. The Saudi authorities say the attack was a Houthi drone strike. 

3. Conflict Incident – 22 Mar 22: Psn 12 47 5N – 43 17 60E (approx.) 
Saudi forces claimed to have destroyed 2 explosive-laden boats IVO Bab al-Mandeb Straits, the Saudi spokesman claimed that the two boats were intending to target oil tankers passing through the strait.

4. Conflict Incident – 21 Mar 22: Psn 16 52 40N – 42 38 7E  
A ballistic missile was reported to have been intercepted in the Jizan area, the strike is reported to have caused travel disruptions at Jizan airport with flights delayed by approximately 30 minutes. 

5. Conflict Incident – 20 Mar 22: Psn 21 30 60N – 39 13 28E 
Saudi air defences intercepted and destroyed a missile/armed drone in Jeddah. It is not yet clear if it was a missile or an armed drone that was intercepted. The attack was launched by Houthi rebels in Yemen. 

6. Conflict Incident – 20 Mar 22: Psn 21 30 70N – 39 13 7E 
Houthi rebels from Yemen are believed to have launched a missile attack targeting the Aramco plant facility in Jeddah. It has been confirmed that there was some infrastructure damage. No casualties were reported. 

7. Conflict Incident – 19 Mar 22: Psn 24 5 32N – 38 9 0E
A Drone targeting a Saudi Aramco LNG facility was intercepted by Saudi air defences in Yanbu. 

8. Conflict Incident – 19 Mar 22: Psn 17 41 43N – 42 0 43E 
Houthi rebels target water desalination plant in Al-Shaqeeq 

9. Conflict Incident – 19 Mar 22: Psn 16 50 35N – 42 38 6E
Houthi rebels attacked an Aramco facility in Jizan. 

6. Regional Monthly Report: South East Asia

South East Asia 01 1

Monthly Activity

Ships transiting the Singapore Strait remain at risk as more incidences of boarding and theft were reported in the area this month. 

Maritime Incidents

1. Boarding/Theft – 23 Mar 22 2120 UTC: Psn 03 55N – 098:46E: Belawan Anchorage, Indonesia 
Three robbers armed with knives boarded an anchored bulk carrier. Duty crew on routine rounds noticed the robbers near the forecastle and raised the alarm. Crew mustered. Seeing the crew’s alertness, the robbers escaped with the stolen ship’s properties. The incident was reported to port authorities. 

2. Boarding – 03 Mar 22 1630 UTC: Psn 01 14 9N – 104 01 5E: Singapore Strait
Five robbers boarded a bulk carrier, the Duty Engineer noticed the robbers and informed the bridge. The Alarm was raised and the crew were mustered. Seeing that the crew were alerted, the robbers escaped empty-handed. 

3. Boarding – 03 Mar 22 2125 UTC: Psn 01 14 20N – 104 00 6E: Singapore Strait
A tanker received a VHF call from VTIS stating that a small craft was following the tanker. The duty watchkeepers directed searchlights and Aldis lamps toward the craft. At the same time, the junior engineer on routine rounds in the engine room noticed six robbers armed with a gun. Upon seeing the engineer, the robbers escaped. The Alarm was raised and the crew mustered. A naval boat came and assisted the tanker. A search was carried out, nothing was reported stolen and the tanker continued her passage. 

4. Boarding – 01 Mar 22 1810 UTC: Psn 01 14 20N – 104 00 17E: Singapore Strait
Three robbers armed with knives boarded a bulk carrier underway. The Duty AB on routine rounds noticed the robbers and informed the OOW. Alarm raised and crew mustered. Seeing the crew’s alertness, the robbers escaped empty-handed. The incident was reported to the Singapore VTS. 

7. Regional Monthly Report: South America and Caribbean

South America 01

Monthly Activity

Three reports of boarding and theft from vessels at anchor in Callao, Peru were reported in the region this month. 

Incidents:

1. Armed Boarding/Theft – 14 Mar 22 0100 UTC: Psn 12 01 55S – 77 11 38W  
Seven robbers armed with knives boarded an anchored container vessel. Alarm raised, a PA announcement was made and the crew mustered resulting in the robbers escaping with the stolen ship’s property and stores. The incident was reported to TRAMAR and the port authorities boarded the ship for investigation.  

2. Armed Boarding/Theft – 13 Mar 22 0100 UTC: Psn 12 00 52S – 77 9 57W: Callao Peru  
Robbers boarded an anchored vehicle carrier and escaped with the ship’s property. The theft was noticed by the duty crew on routine rounds. The incident was reported to the port authorities. 

3. Armed Boarding/Theft – 10 Mar 22 0100 UTC: Psn 12 00 52S – 77 9 57W: Callao Peru 
Seven robbers armed with long knives in a small boat approached and boarded an anchored bulk carrier in dense fog. They took the Duty AB hostage and stole the ship’s stores. The bridge duty officer tried to contact the AB, but when no response was received he instructed the duty bosun and OS to investigate. The Alarm was raised and the crew mustered. Hearing the alarm and seeing that the crew were alerted, the robbers released the duty AB and escaped in their boat. The incident was reported to the port authorities. 

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