Protection Vessels International: Weekly Maritime Security Report

Indonesia: Assailants attempt to rob vessel in Batam Anchorage 20 May

Six masked robbers in a skiff came alongside a tug boat anchored at Batam Anchorage at 0330 hrs local time. Duty crew saw the robbers and raised the alarm and the crew mustered, prompting the assailants to flee. Nothing was reported stolen. The incident marks the second report of criminal activity at Batam Anchorage in 2016 following a robbery on 25 April.

Indonesia: Robber steals ship’s properties in Samarinda anchorage 17 May

A thief boarded a bulk carrier and stole ship’s properties at approximately 0000 hrs local time at Samarinda anchorage. The vessel’s crew later noticed items were missing during routine rounds. Petty theft is periodically reported at Samarinda anchorage, although many incidents are thought to go unreported.

Philippines: Assailant robs vehicle carrier in Batagas Bay 9 April

According to a late report, an assailant robbed a Singapore-flagged vehicle carrier at Delta Anchorage, Batagas Bay, at 0330 hrs local time. Crew found a watertight door had been tied shut with iron rods, prompting them to raise the alarm. Upon opening the door it was found that two fire hose couplings, two fire hose nozzles and a coil of welding cables had been stolen.

PVI Analysis: The incidents come amid a recent uptick in reports of petty theft at Southeast Asian anchorages after a lull in such reports in the first quarter of 2016. Assailants are typically non-violent and opportunistic, targeting vessels at night or in the early hours of the morning when they are least likely to be caught. In the past, lower levels of investment in port security have led to an increase in criminality at ports and anchorages, particularly in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Select Maritime News

Australia: Environmental group commences campaign against BP’s drilling proposals 21 May

Environmental activist organisation Sea Shepherd has launched a campaign against BP’s proposals to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight. Sea Shepherd’s vessel is due to call at several coastal towns to raise awareness of the proposals and rally local support against the plans. The organisation has raised fears that an oil spill could destroy the bight’s biodiversity. The campaign comes after authorities rejected BP’s environmental proposals for drilling and exploring in the bight.

Brazil: Transperto consider military force against striking seafarers 17 May

Transperto, a subsidiary of Petrobras, are considering the use of military personnel against striking seafarers, according to the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF). According to the ITF, union leaders have also been denied access to visit striking workers. Transperto attempted to obtain an injunction to prevent the strike, which began on 14 May, but the court denied the request and ruled that workers had the right to strike.

Chile: Enap dismisses port chief over oil spill 17 May

Chilean state-owned energy company Enap announced the dismissal of the head of Quintero port following the discovery of an oil spill. He was dismissed to ensure the independence of the investigation and assist in determining those responsible for the spill. On 15 May, an undetermined amount of decant oil was spilled into Quintero Bay due to a problem with a flexible line connecting a tanker and the port terminal.

China: Beijing plans maritime rescue base on disputed South China Sea island 23 May

The Ministry of Transport’s South China Sea Rescue Bureau has announced it is planning to establish a base station in the disputed Spratly Islands, amid a continued effort by China to establish its authority in the waters through militarisation and island reclamation operations. Chinese advanced rescue ships will carry drones and underwater robots and are set to be deployed in the latter half of 2016, according to the bureau’s political commissar Chen Xingguang. The official aim of the move is to provide protection from Chinese fishing boats, which have regularly clashed with Philippine and Vietnamese navies in the past two years.

China: State-owned firm proposes submarine sensors in South China Sea 19 May

China State Shipbuilding Corporation, one of China’s largest state-owned conglomerates, has proposed building a network of underwater sensors to detect US and Russian submarines and to boost military control of the disputed South China Sea. The company has proposed what it calls the ‘Underwater Great Wall Project’ to the PLA Navy. China has increasingly militarised the reclaimed islands in the disputed sea, causing growing tensions with other claimants including the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as the US.

China: Military jets intercept US plane over South China Sea 18 May

A Pentagon statement announced that on 17 May, two Chinese jets intercepted a US military reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea. The incident took place in international airspace as the US aircraft carried out a “routine patrol”, the Pentagon said, adding that the Chinese jets conducted an “unsafe” intercept. Tensions between both countries over the South China Sea are increasing, with the US accusing China of militarising the sea by creating artificial islands and Beijing responding by criticising Washington’s increased navy patrols in the sea.

France: Oil workers launch 24-hr strike at Fos-Lavera terminals 23 May

France’s CGT union launched a 24-hour strike at the Fos-Lavera oil terminals in Marseille, the latest in a series of industrial actions by oil workers in the country which have contributed to massive shortages at petrol stations nationwide. No ships are operating at the terminals, according to CGT. The strike was launched to protest against controversial labour reforms which were pushed through by the government without a parliamentary vote on 10 May. Total’s four refineries and nine depots are currently blocked as the country faces ongoing unrest and disruption.

France: Tens of thousands protest nationwide in support of strikes 17 May

Tens of thousands of people took part in protests across France in support of strikes in opposition to controversial labour reforms. Up to 10,000 people took part in a protest in Nantes, where the worst violence was reported, with police using tear gas to disperse protesters who were setting fire to vehicles and throwing projectiles. Clashes between police and protesters were also reported in Bordeaux and the Montparnasse neighbourhood of Paris. Protesting truck drivers blocked roads in northern France, affecting cities including Bordeaux, Caen, Le Mans, Marseille and Nantes. Intercity trains were affected, and ferry services were disrupted by striking workers.

India: Naval ships sail for exercises in South China Sea 18 May

Guided missile stealth frigates, INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, INS Shakti, a sophisticated fleet support ship, and INS Kirch, a guided missile corvette, sailed to the South China Sea to participate in the MALABAR-16 exercise with US and Japanese navies. The operational deployment is expected to last for two months. In 2015, India included Japan in its annual naval exercise with the US in a move that was sharply criticised by China.

Iran: New Delhi, Tehran sign deal over Chabahar 23 May

India signed an agreement to build and run the Chabahar port in Iran during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official visit to Tehran. Foreign ministry officials said that the investment, which would also cover sectors such as aluminium smelters and urea plants, would amount to ‘billions of dollars’, but did not specify the amount. Chabahar is a strategic port for India, as it will grant New Delhi access to Afghanistan and the markets of Central Asia by circumventing Pakistan.

Iran: Resolution of insurance issues allows tankers to visit any port 16 May

The managing director of the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) said it has secured all the required certificates from international insurance agencies for its tankers. This removes all insurance-related hurdles to enabling ships to dock at any port worldwide. On 12 June, the NITC announced it expects to return to European ports in June after four years of suspension resulting from sanctions.

Kenya: Security forces arrest al-Shabaab suspect in Lamu 19 May

Kenyan anti-terrorism forces arrested an al-Shabaab suspect and recovered explosives in the coastal town of Lamu. The security forces also seized a boat believed to be used to transport chemicals for explosive devices. Local police chief Francis Wanjiho said the suspect was planning to carry out attacks on Lamu and Malindi. Kenya’s coastal region, which is the base of the country’s tourism sector, has seen an increased presence of al-Shabaab militants who cross the border illegally from their stronghold in southern Somalia.

Libya: Exports resume from Hariga oil terminal 19 May

The General Director of Marsa al-Hariga port said that 600,000 barrels of oil began to be loaded on to the oil tanker Seachance. The move came after the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation and its eastern counterpart agreed a deal over oil exports from Hariga. Oil exports from Libya have been at around a quarter of pre-2011 levels in recent months amid ongoing militant violence and a dispute between rival governments over the right to export oil.

Nigeria: Ship brokerage warns Niger Delta attacks disrupting oil exports 23 May

Energy and ship brokerage Poten & Partners has warned that the disruption to Nigeria’s oil exports caused by ongoing attacks on oil pipelines is putting pressure on both Suezmax and Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) oil tankers. The news follows Exxon Mobil’s declaration of force majeure and curtailment of its oil production at Qua Iboe terminal in the Bight of Biafra in the Niger Delta after a drilling rig damaged a pipeline on 16 May, further compounding disruption to the country’s oil exports.

Pakistan: Tribunal sentences five naval officers to death in Karachi dockyard attack 24 May 2016

A navy tribunal handed death sentences to five officers accused in the September 2014 attack on the Karachi Naval Dockyard. The officers were charged with having links with the Islamic State group, mutiny, hatching a conspiracy, and carrying weapons in the dockyard. In 2014, the five men attacked the dockyard to reportedly hijack the warship PNS Zulfiqar and use it to target one of the US navy’s refuel ships. At the time, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and al-Qaeda India made rival claims of responsibility for the attack. The families of the accused allege that the officers have not been given a fair trial.

Philippines: Authorities detain 25 Chinese fishermen, seize two boats 17 May

Authorities arrested 25 Chinese fishermen and confiscated two fishing boats, accusing them of poaching in Philippine waters. The boats were reportedly sailing without permits between waters off Babuyan Island and Batanes province in northern Philippines, and not in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. Tensions between both countries are high as the Philippines has approached a UN tribunal to deliver a ruling over China’s claims in the sea, although the country’s newly elected president has said he is open to bilateral talks with Beijing. In 2014, a Philippine court fined nine Chinese fishermen USD 102,000 each after they were caught with hundreds of sea turtles in the disputed Half Moon Shoal in the Spratly islands of the South China Sea.

South Africa: Cape Town increases security against illegal fishing 19 May

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana announced the implementation of tightened security measures to stop illegal fishing in South African waters. As part of the new measures, a helicopter has been dispatched to monitor vessel activity, after about nine foreign vessels suspected of illegal fishing were spotted between ZwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. Illegal activities in South African waters cost the country’s economy about USD 3.7 bn per year.

South Africa: Port authorities report vessels off Durban 16 May

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported nine suspected illegal China-flagged fishing vessels off the coast between Durban and Port St Johns. A patrol boat was sent to escort the vessels to Saldanha port. The vessels initially agreed to cooperate, but then dispersed in different directions, resulting in the capture of only one of them. The ship was escorted to the port of Cape Town, where the crew will be questioned. The authorities are searching the area to find the remaining eight vessels.

Sweden: Mediation between APMT, dockworkers fails to avert strike 16 May

The mediation process in the labour dispute between APM terminals in Gothenburg and the Swedish Dockworkers’ Union has come to a halt, with both parties failing to find a compromise solution. As a result, a plan by the union to stop all operations at the terminal for 24 hours on 17 May and on 24 May will go ahead. Workers are calling for a separate collective agreement and better working conditions at the terminal.

Tanzania: Police probe wharfage fee theft at Dar es Salaam port 24 May

Police have taken over an investigation into the suspected theft of USD 22 mn worth of wharfage fees at Dar es Salaam port. The police probe comes after the transport minister confirmed initial investigations into the incident found elements of criminality in the case. The suspects in the case are employees of the Tanzania Ports Authority and the CRDB bank, and investigations are ongoing.

Source: Protection Vessels International