High Risk Area (HRA)
On 26 May, a merchant vessel reported being followed for a period of 20 minutes by a single white skiff travelling at speeds of 18 knots in position 08:02N – 076:57E (ID 678). The skiff was carrying six people, a ladder and weapons.
Although the sighting of weapons is of interest, based on the location of this incident it is
unlikely that Somali pirates were involved. There is no evidence to suggest that Somali
pirates currently have the capabilities to operate so far from the Somali coast. The incident
may have been the result of naval operations related to illegal fishing in Indian waters.
Regional tensions between Iran and the Saudi-led coalition over the ongoing conflict in Yemen have abated somewhat this week following the docking of an Iranian aid vessel in Djibouti. The vessel began transiting to Yemen’s Hodeidah port during the five-day ceasefire. Saudi Arabia has previously accused Iran of arming Yemen’s Houthi rebel movement and had warned that the vessel would be subjected to the coalition blockade that requires vessels to be searched prior to entry into Yemen.
Iranian officials initially responded that repercussions would result if any attempt was made by the coalition to search the vessel but later decided that UN search operations would be permitted. The aid cargo has now been unloaded in Djibouti and the World Food Programme has pledged to deliver Iran’s aid to Yemen by 5 June. There have been no reports of any weaponry being discovered on board the Iranian vessel.
Ongoing tensions between Iranian and coalition naval forces in the region around the Bab el
Mandeb Strait and Gulf of Aden have prompted concerns among operators that insurance costs for ship owners are set to increase. Any increase in cost may now also apply to the Strait of Hormuz in light of the Iranian seizure of the Maersk Tigris vessel in April and alleged firing of warning shots against a Singapore-flagged tanker in the strait on 14 May.
On 23 May, four robbers boarded an underway containership at 0330 hrs local time around 5nm south of Pulau Nipah. The crew spotted the robbers and raised the alarm. On seeing the alert crew, the robbers escaped in their speed boat empty-handed.
The boarding of underway vessels is becoming an increasingly common tactic along the
Singapore Strait. Although the robbers operating here have not displayed any intention to
hijack vessels, their ability to board a variety of underway vessels, including bulk carriers,
should be of concern to operators.
On 22 May, an unknown number of robbers boarded an anchored container vessel at 0630 hrs local time in Vung Tau anchorage. Duty crew members noticed the paint store had been broken into and found foot prints along the deck. The crew conducted a search and found stores to be missing. The robbers had already escaped.
This incident marks the seventh reported robbery in Vung Tau anchorage since the beginning of 2015. The robbers operating off the coast of Vietnam usually launch attacks against anchored vessels from fishing boats. They are typically successful in their robberies, stealing stores, paint and other small items. Due to the relatively low value of the items stolen it is likely that many incidents go unreported.
On 20 May, three robbers, in an unlit boat, boarded an anchored product tanker using a hook and rope at 0001 hrs local time in Batangas Anchorage. The robbers broke into the bosun store and stole ship’s properties. The duty officer on the bridge saw the robbers and raised the alarm. On hearing the alarm, the robbers jumped overboard and escaped with the stolen items in their boat.
Reported activity in Batangas Anchorage is very rare with only three incidents reported since the beginning of 2014. It is likely that the robbers here are opportunistic criminals targeting vulnerable vessels as they are anchored in the port. It is possible that actual activity levels are higher than the numbers indicate but many incidents may go unreported due to the low value of items stolen.
On 20 May, robbers boarded an anchored product tanker at 0630 hrs local time in Dumai Anchorage. The robbers escaped from the vessel and the crew conducted a search operation but nothing was found to be stolen.
This marks the fourth incident reported in Dumai Anchorage since the beginning of 2015 showing a marked increase in activity levels compared to the previous year. Only one incident was reported in Dumai Anchorage throughout 2014. The robbers here typically have a low rate of success and quickly flee from a vessel once the alarm is raised.
On 22 May at 0035 hrs local time, an anchored vessel was approached by a wooden fishing boat containing two armed robbers off Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. One robber attempted to board the vessel but was spotted by a crew member who raised the vessel’s alarm. The robbers quickly fled the scene empty handed.
Reported robberies against anchored vessels off Abidjan are rare with only four incidents
reported since the beginning of 2014. The robbers operating here are typically armed with
long knives and other weapons and have shown a willingness to use violence against crew
members. On 16 November 2014 eight robbers armed with knives and machine guns boarded an anchored tanker off Abidjan. The robbers attempted to hijack the vessel but were unable to start the engine.
In a late report, on 18 May pirates in two speedboats approached and boarded a Nigeria-flagged offshore tug approximately 15nm south of Akwa Ibom, Nigeria. The exact details surrounding the incident remain limited, however six crew members have been reported kidnapped. The whereabouts of the victims remains unknown. Two of the victims are reportedly foreign nationals, although their nationalities have not been confirmed.
Source: Protection Vessels International (PVI)