Maritime Incident Report: May 2023

Our monthly Maritime Incident Report: May 2023 covers maritime security and incidents throughout the Indian Ocean, the Black Sea, West Africa, South East Asia and South America for the period 01/05/23 – 31/05/23.

Executive Summary

• Greek Operated Tanker Seized in Strait of Hormuz
• 3 Crew Kidnapped in Gabon released by Captors
• Theft from ships continues in the Singapore Strait

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

West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea

Monthly Activity

Three crewmembers kidnapped from a bulker near Libreville Gabon in West Africa have been released after approximately three weeks in captivity. The three individuals believed to be the Russian captain and two Georgians who were first and second mates, were aboard the Grebe Bulker (registered in the Marshall Islands) when they were abducted on May 2.

Maritime Incidents

1. Kidnap – 02 May 2359 UTC: Psn 00 15 40N 07 21 36E:
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) confirmed that it had received reports that the captain and two officers were missing from the Marshall Islands-registered bulker, Grebe Bulker which was drifting off the port of Owendo Libreville. The crew members are believed to have been kidnapped.

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

Black Sea nad Sea of Azov

Monthly Activity

On 17 May 2023, the Russian Federation confirmed its continued participation in the Black Sea initiative for a further 60 days although It was reported by a P and I club representative, that there has been no movement of vessels in the Black Sea Grain Initiative humanitarian corridors between Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi to Istanbul since 26 April. 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 May.

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

The Panama-flagged Oil Tanker NIOVI was seized by Iranian authorities while transiting the Strait of Hormuz. No reason was given by the Iranians as to why the vessel was intercepted but the vessel is believed to have been taken to an anchorage close to the port of Bandar Abbas. Open-source media reports suggest the vessel was taken due to a dispute over an Iranian oil shipment which may have links with the sanctioned company ASB Group.

Maritime Incidents

1. Boarding – 03 May 2023 0300 UTC: Psn 26 26N – 56 28E:
The Bahrain based US Navy Fifth Fleet reported that the Oil Tanker NIOVI was seized by up to 10 vessels of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Navy).

5. Regional Monthly Report: Yemen and Southern Red Sea

Yemen and Southern Red Sea

Monthly Activity

There has been no activity to report in this region in May.

Maritime Incidents

No Incidents to report.

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 by far 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 to be to capture the vessel’s equipment and stores. The location of incidents was more widespread than in previous months.

Maritime Incidents

1. Boarding/Theft – 27 May 2023: Psn 01 26 03N – 104 30 04E: Singapore Strait:
The crew on an unidentified vessel noticed a storeroom had been broken into and the ship’s stores were missing. The theft was reported to local authorities.

2. Boarding/Theft – 24 May 2023: Psn 22 11N – 91 39E: Chittagong Berth Bangladesh:
Around six to eight robbers armed with knives boarded a berthed tanker. The crew raised the alarm and mustered resulting in the robbers escaping with the stolen ship’s stores. The Incident was reported to the coast guard who boarded the tanker for

3. Boarding/Theft – 21 May 2023: 1800 UTC: Psn 01 05N – 103 33E: Singapore Strait:
Four robbers armed with a knife boarded an underway bulk carrier. The alarm was raised and the crew mustered resulting in the robbers escaping with stolen ship’s stores. All the crew was reported safe. The incident was reported to Singapore Coast Guard.

4. Boarding – 09 May 2023: 1600 – 1800 UTC: Psn 01 12N – 103 21E, Singapore Strait:
Unauthorised persons boarded an unmanned barge which was under tow, twice within three hours. The incident was reported to local authorities via VHF. All the crew members were reported to be safe.

7. Regional Monthly Report: South America and Caribbean

South America

Monthly Activity

There were no reports of maritime crime in this region during May.


No incidents to report.

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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