Maritime Threat Picture

in collaboration with NORTH

Robbers attack crew of anchored tanker view more

Unmanned boat laden with explosives 'tracked and destroyed' view more

Bulk carrier followed by 11 skiffs, some with ladders on board view more

Two vessels attacked while underway. Nine seafarers abducted view more

Ships evacuated from Tripoli after missile strike view more

Costa Rica, Drugs found in container carrying decorative plants view more

GoG, Containership attacked in daylight while making some 20 knots view more

Venezuela decrees that port fees be paid in cryptocurrency Petros view more

Nigerian transport minister vetoes private involvement in anchorage security view more

'Unprecedented rise' in kidnapping presents 'serious and immediate threat' view more

Vessels boarded while moving through Singapore Traffic Separation Scheme view more

STRAIT OF HORMUZ /PERSIAN GULF: Threat - US warms of possible Iranian action against US maritime interests view more

GUINEA: Risk - Robbers use violence to threaten crew view more

Somali-waters remain high risk view more

Abu Sayyaf terrorists targeting fishing boats view more

Pirates attacking vessels to kidnap crew view more

Thieves boarding vessels close to eastern approaches to Singapore Strait view more

Red Sea: Explosions reported on tanker against a background of growing regional tensions view more

Guayaquil - Risk: Armed robbers threatening crew view more

SINGAPORE - Threat: Thieves boarding barges moving through Singapore Strait view more

Douala Port Authority providing armed guards for ships view more

Libyan ports open but security concerns unresolved view more

JWC Listed Areas: Saudi Arabia (Red Sea coast) excluding transits view more

JWC Listed Area: United Arab Emirates view more

JWC Listed Area: Persian or Arabian Gulf and adjacent waters including the Gulf of Oman west of Longitude 58°E view more

JWC Listed Area: Oman view more

'Strong warning' to observe sanctions view more

United States adds Seychelles to the list of countries it regards as having inadequate anti-terrorism measures view more

SINGAPORE STRAIT - Risk: Indonesian authorities target vessels anchored without permission view more

INDONESIA - Risk: Vessels at anchor targeted by thieves view more

NIGERIA - Risk: Vessels visiting ports and anchorages in and around Lagos targeted by thieves. view more

VENEZUELA - Risk: Robbery on the rise in Venezuela's ports view more

ROMANIA - Risk: Authorities impose strict policies for exchanging and deballasting in Romania view more

VENEZUELA - Risk: Economic and social turmoil contribute to deteriorating port security. view more

Chrome cargoes causing confusion in Mozambique view more

Libya – Risk: Tankers and their crews being detained on suspicion of oil smuggling view more

PERU - Risk: of robberies from ships in Callao view more

COTE D'IVOIRE - Risk: Difficult navigation and port conditions in Abidjan view more

Threat: Hijacking and boarding for theft in South China Sea view more

MALACCA STRAIT - Risk: robbery. Maintain strict anti-piracy and robbery watches. view more

Risk: Syrian sanctions view more

IRAN - Risk: Iranian Sanctions view more

LIBYA - Risk: fines issued for delays in discharging at Misurata, Libya view more

Risk: Drug trafficking at Puerto Cabello, Lake Maracaibo and Orinoco River ports view more

ALGERIA - Risk: Customs fines in Algeria view more

VIETNAM - Risk: Bulk cargo shortage claims in Vietnam view more

Ice-conditions at Ukrainian ports view more

SENEGAL - Risk: Hull staining at Dakar, Senegal view more

SUDAN - Risk: Damage and shortage claims for bagged cargo in Port Sudan view more

UAE - Risk Possible delays caused by disembarking crew due to injury or sickness at Fujairah, UAE view more

CAMEROON - Risk: Fines imposed for sewage treatment plant effluent non-compliance view more

CHINA - Risk: Theft from ships in Tianjin anchorage view more

PHILIPPINES - Theft from vessels in Manila and Batangas view more

VENEZUELA - Risk: Delays due to hull cleaning in Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela view more

SENEGAL - Risk: Fines for inaccurate bunker customs declarations in the port of Dakar, Senegal view more

INDIA - Risk: Fines and delays for seafarers failing to submit a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate in Mumbai, India view more

EGYPT- Risk: Fines for fender damage claims in Egyptian ports view more

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Risk: Fines for unauthorised transit through marine reserve areas view more

ARGENTINA - Risk: Grounding in the Parana River, Argentina view more

PERU - Risk: Unexpected charges for sludge removal services at ports in Peru view more

SAUDI ARABIA & UAE Risk: Infection from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome - Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) view more

MEXICO - Risk: Shipper's surveyor forcing Masters to accept pre-prepared non-clausable mate's receipts at Veracruz, Mexico view more

URUGUAY - Risk: Fines and delays for non-compliance with Uruguayan Oil Spill Response Organisation (OSRO) contract requirements view more

AUSTRALIA - Risk: Navigation through the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, Australia view more

ARGENTINA - Risk: Customs fines for short landing fertilizer cargoes in Argentina view more

ANGOLA - Risk: Fines, ship arrest and delays for carrying out non-approved bunkering operations in Angolan waters view more

LIBYA - Risk: Ship arrest for loading banned illicit crude oil from Libya view more

HONG KONG - Risk: Fines for non-compliance with Hong Kong - Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) (Fuel at Berth) Regulations view more

USA - Risk: Fines for non-compliance with MARPOL Annex VI within the US Emission Control Area view more

VENEZUELA - Risk: Self heating petroleum coke at Amuay Terminal, Venezuela view more

CAMEROON - Risk: Vessels grounding in the approaches to Douala port, Cameroon view more

CHINA - Risk: Fines following illegal discharges into the Bohai Sea and China's inland waterways view more

AUSTRALIA - Risk: Detentions and delays arising from Port State Control (PSC) inspections and non-compliance with MLC 2006 regulations view more

SOUTH AFRICA - Risk: Costs and consequences for repatriating stowaways at the port of Cape Town view more

UKRAINE - Risk: Ballast water sampling requirements, Ukraine view more

CHINA - Risk: The collection of tax from non-resident taxpayers engaged in international transportation business with China view more

SAUDI ARABIA - Risk: Potential shortage claims when loading bulk sulphur at Jubail, Saudi Arabia view more

COTE D'IVOIRE - Risk: Ship arrest as a result of paper shortage claims in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire view more

PAKISTAN - Risk: Ship arrest and customs fines as a result of fabricated coal cargo shortage claims in Karachi, Pakistan view more

BULGARIA - Risk: P&I claims arising from grain cargo contamination loaded at Varna, Bulgaria view more

ROMANIA - Risk: P&I claims arising from grain cargo contamination loaded at Constantza, Romania view more

CHINA - Risk: Navigation danger due to expansion of aquaculture at Lanshan, China view more

CANADA - Risk: Ice navigation in Canadian waters during the winter months view more

CHINA - Risk: Fines, Port State Control detentions and delays for breaching regulations for passing through the Qiongzhou Straits, China view more

COTE D'IVOIRE - Risk: Fines imposed by customs officials due to inaccuracies in customs documentation at Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire view more

VENEZUELA - Risk: Misdeclared metallic iron content of Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) cargoes at San Felix, Venezuela view more

MALAYSIA - Risk: Bauxite with a high moisture content loaded at Kuantan, Malaysia, may be prone to liquefaction view more

GABON - Risk: Fines imposed by customs officials due to inaccuracies in port clearance documentation at Port Gentil, Gabon view more

CHINA - Risk: Fertilizer loaded in Chinese ports susceptible to caking and contamination view more

COTE D'IVOIRE - Risk: Delays resulting from port officials' refusal to land stowaways at Abidjan and San Pedro, Cote d'Ivoire view more

CHINA - Risk: Danger to navigation due to sea ice in the Baohai Sea, China view more

KUWAIT - Risk: Claims arising from grain cargo shortages in Shuwaikh port, Kuwait view more

CHINA - Risk: Cargo claims and potential liquefaction of fluorspar cargoes in China view more

PAKISTAN - Risk: Bulk liquid cargo shortage claims in Karachi, Pakistan view more

BRAZIL - Risk: Bauxite with a high moisture content loaded at Trombetas, Brazil may be prone to liquefaction view more

SAUDI ARABIA - Risk: Grain cargo shortage claims at Saudi Arabian ports view more

ANGOLA - Risk: Damages and shortage claims for bagged rice cargoes to Luanda view more

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - Risk: US Environmental Protection Agency fines for noncompliance with MARPOL Annex VI low sulphur content fuels. view more

UKRAINE - Risk: Black-listing and possible ship arrest resulting from previously visiting Crimean ports view more

THAILAND - Risk: Fines and delays as a result of loading/discharging dangerous goods without permission from Thailand's Marine Safety and Environment Bureau/Harbour Department view more

TURKEY - Risk: Fines for short landing of cargo at Turkish ports view more

HONG KONG - Risk: Fines for emitting dark smoke in the port of Hong Kong view more

INDONESIA - Risk: Fraudulent Port State Control (PSC) inspection charges in Indonesia view more

SIERRA LEONE - Risk: Issues loading iron ore during the rainy season in Sierra Leone view more

GHANA - Risk: Bauxite with a high moisture content loaded at Takoradi may be prone to liquefaction view more

SIERRA LEONE - Risk: Problems associated with the loading of bauxite on the Sherbro River, Sierra Leone view more

SOUTH AFRICA - Risk: Costs and consequences for repatriating stowaways at the port of Durban view more

NORTH AMERICA - Risk: Delays due to the discovery of Asian Gypsy Moth in Canada and the USA view more

SUDAN - Risk: Regular shortage claims following the discharge of bulk wheat at Port Sudan view more

ALGERIA -Risk: Customs fines due to shortage claims for grain cargoes shipped to Algeria view more

INDIA - Risk: Cargo claims and potential liquefaction of iron ore cargoes in Goa, India view more

MEXICO - Risk: Delays, ship arrest and problems loading iron ore cargo in Mexican ports view more

MEXICO - Risk: Drug cartel activity and acts of violence in and around Mexican port cities view more

South America - Risk: Drug Trafficking throughout South America view more

SOUTH AFRICA - Risk: Ships anchoring in South African coastal waters are obliged to first obtain permission from the South African Maritime Safety Authority view more

SENEGAL - Risk: Senegalese authorities forbid the landing of stowaways at the port of Dakar view more

CAMEROON - Risk: Fines and delays as a result of exaggerated cargo claims at the port of Douala view more

BENIN - Risk: Exaggerated shortage claims resulting in customs fines view more

YEMEN - Risk: Fines, delays and detention as a result of differences in oil record books and shipboard retention of oils, Yemen view more

YEMEN - Risk: Fabricated stevedore personal Injury claims in Yemeni ports view more

YEMEN - Risk: Fines, ship arrest and possible delays as a result of late reporting of Fixed and Floating Object (FFO) claims in Yemen view more

GHANA - Risk: Stowaways boarding or being discovered at Tema Port or Takoradi ports, Ghana view more

SIERRA LEONE - Risk: associated with discharging bulk rice at ports in Sierra Leone view more

JORDAN - Risk: Bulk cargo shortage claims in the port of Aqaba view more

YEMEN - Risk: Ship arrest as a result of exaggerated cargo shortage claims in Yemen view more

AUSTRALIA - Risk: Possible ship detention by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority as a consequence of using non-approved navigation charts in Australian waters view more

COLOMBIA - Risk: Possible delays caused by the Colombian Navy carrying out routine anti-drug trafficking searches in Colombia's ports (Puerto Bolivar, Puerto Neuvo and Puerto Drummond) view more

LIBYA - Risk: Sanctions and US Treasury Specially Designated Nationals List, Libya view more

YEMEN - Risk: Unexpected expenses and fines arising from the shifting of vessels, arrival draught restrictions and exceeding time allotted for discharge in Hodeida view more

TURKEY - Risk: Issues associated with loading steel products in Turkish ports view more

SOUTH AFRICA - Risk: Delays caused by ship detentions due to the discovery of armaments on board merchant vessels in South Africa view more

TUNISIA - Risk: P&I claims and customs fines arising from short landing of cargo in Tunisian ports. view more

SENEGAL - Risk: Senegalese authorities robustly impose customs fines on vessels calling at Dakar view more

SENEGAL - Risk: Restricted availability of bunkers at Dakar roads, Senegal view more

THAILAND - Risk: Problems associated with loading bulk and bagged sugar in Thailand view more

THAILAND - Risk: Old, damaged bagged rice from Thailand view more

THAILAND - Risk: Potential damage to bagged rice due to dunnaging in Thailand view more

NIGERIA – Risk: Nigerian navy arrest vessels employing the services of armed security guards view more

SUDAN - Risk: Fraudulent steel transactions to Port Sudan view more

TAIWAN - Risk: Damage to nets and equipment, safe transit of the coastal fishing zones of Taiwan view more

GUATEMALA - Risk: Nickel ore can liquefy due to excessive moisture content view more

ARGENTINA - Risk: Customs fines in Argentina relating to the misdeclaration of ship's stores view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Eritrea, but only South of 15º N view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Venezuela. view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Yemen view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Syria view more

JWC listed area in Saudi Arabia (Gulf coast) view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Lebanon view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Israel view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Iraq, including all Iraqi offshore terminals view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Iran view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Pakistan view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Togo view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Somalia view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Indian Ocean / Arabian Sea / Gulf of Aden / Gulf of Oman / Southern Red Sea view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Benin view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Nigeria view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Libya view more

Joint War Committee Listed Area: Gulf of Guinea, but only the waters of the Togolese, Beninese and Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zones north of Latitude 3° N view more

USA - Risk: merchant vessels subject to fines and severe delays due to illegal contraband carriage, particularly from the port of Miami and Port Everglades view more

CARIBBEAN - Risk: commercial vessels being used to traffic and smuggle contraband in the Caribbean Basin, particularly to and from the Port of Spain, Trinidad, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Jamaica view more

ECUADOR - Risk: Drug trafficking, theft and piracy at the Ecuadorian port of Guayaquil and Puerto Bolivar view more

SPAIN - Risk: vessels being used to traffic and/or smuggle contraband from North and West Africa though Algeciras (Spain) into European black markets view more

THE NETHERLANDS AND BELGIUM - Risk: vessels being used to traffic and/or smuggle contraband through the major shipping hubs of Antwerp and Rotterdam view more

LIBYA & SYRIA - Risk: Implications of the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean view more

INDONESIA AND PHILIPPINES - Risk: nickel ore liquefaction due to excessive moisture content during voyages from the Philippines and Indonesia view more

INDONESIA - Threat: of theft from ships at anchor view more

BANGLADESH - Risk of theft from ships anchoring in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar view more

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Current Incidents
Enduring Risks
Listed Areas
Latest Incidents
25/02/2020 LC Posn 10.30 - -64.701

Background

The master of a tanker has been shot and killed during a robbery off Puerto La Cruz in Venezuela.

Local press reports say six armed men wearing balaclavas boarded the 2,000 deadweight tonne (dwt) tanker SEABOARD 1, formerly SAN RAMON (IMO: 7824572).

The master was shot resisting the robbers.  Another crew member who jumped into the sea was later reported missing.

A Coast Guard sergeant was also wounded in the attack.

The robbers boarded the vessel in the early hours of February 24 while the tanker was anchored near Borracha Island. They were able to escape in a boat.

Assessment and Analysis

Robbers have targeted ships at anchor, particularly at Puerto La Cruz and Puerto Jose.

There were five reports of robberies and attempted robberies in the first four months of 2019.

However, data collected by the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre recorded no incidents in the second half of the year.

The country has been struggling with civil unrest and a deteriorating economy.

Ships calling at Venezuela’s ports and oil terminals should be prepared for a heightened level of risk and should maintain strict watches at berth and at anchor.

Reported and analysed by North and Gray Page

25/02/2020 Posn 14.51 - 42.72

Background

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen says it has destroyed a remote-controlled boat laden with explosives.

A spokesman for the coalition said it had acted to prevent an ‘imminent terrorist attack’ in the southern Red Sea.

He claimed the unmanned vessel had been launched from Hodeidah province in western Yemen on February 23.

He said it had been tracked and destroyed by the coalition navy.

There was no indication of the intended target, but the spokesman said the planned attack had been a threat to security and maritime trade.

In other developments, the coalition said it had destroyed three naval mines in the Bab al-Mandeb strait.

Assessment and Analysis

There have been several reports of the discovery and destruction of unmanned explosive-laden vessels, the most recent in September 2019.

The Saudi-led coalition blames Houthi forces fighting the Yemeni government for deploying the vessels.

There has been no comment from the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on the latest claims.

The war in Yemen, which began in 2015, has the potential to disrupt shipping. The southern Red Sea remains a High Risk Area.

All vessels should use the Maritime Security Transit Corridor (MSTC) in the Gulf of Aden and Southern Red Sea region, set up by US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).

The situation in the region is fluid and the threats to shipping can change rapidly.

Reported and analysed by North and Gray Page

24/02/2020 LC Posn 12.2 - 43.61

Background

United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) has issued two warnings highlighting suspicious activity by skiffs in the Gulf of Aden.

The first warning followed reports that, after nightfall on February 20, three skiffs made a suspicious approach to a merchant vessel.

The vessel was underway south of the Yemeni port of Al Mukalla, between Yemen and Somalia, and was inside the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC). The skiffs approached to within one nautical mile (nm).

The second warning followed a report from the 63,498-deadweight tonne (dwt) bulk carrier CL LINDY that 11 skiffs, some with ladders on board, had made a suspicious approach in daylight on February 22.

UKMTO said warning shots had been fired.

The bulk carrier was underway between Yemen and Djibouti.

Assessment and Analysis

The UKMTO is an information-sharing service between security forces and the wider international maritime community.

It advises that shipping in the Gulf of Aden exercise ‘extreme caution’.

Although attacks by Somalia-based pirates have all but ceased, international naval forces continue to patrol waters off the Horn of Africa and there are occasional reports of skiffs making suspicious approaches.

In September 2019, a skiff with a ladder on board approached a merchant ship and in April 2019, five suspected pirates used a captured Yemeni dhow to attack fishing boats off the coast of Somalia.

A senior official with EU NAVFOR, the European Union Naval Force operating off Somalia, warned last year that waters in the region remained ‘high risk’ and piracy had not been eradicated.

Reported and analysed by North and Gray Page

24/02/2020 LC Posn 5.83 - 2.61

Background

Pirates have seized nine seafarers from an oil tanker underway in the Gulf of Guinea.

They attacked the 74,401 deadweight tonne (dwt) ALPINE PENELOPE some 75 nautical miles (nm) south of the Benin coast after midnight on February 20.

Communications with the tanker were briefly lost after the pirates, who were armed, boarded from a skiff.

When contact was resumed, the attackers had already fled, taking their hostages with them.

The Liberian-flagged tanker’s crew of 24 included Georgian, Ukrainian and Filipino nationals.

A little over 24 hours after the attack on the ALPINE PENELOPE, pirates targeted a 3,739 TEU capacity containership, the IRENES RESOLVE.

It was underway some 120 nm south-west of Nigeria’s Bayelsa state when, shortly before dawn on February 21, it came under fire from a skiff.

The attackers ordered the containership to stop but the master refused and declared he had an armed security team on-board.

The attack was broken off.

Assessment and Analysis

The latest attacks came just a week after pirates boarded the 5,380 TEU capacity containership MAERSK TEMA, underway 100 nautical miles (nm) northwest of the islands of Sao Tome and Principe.

In January, there were three attempts to board ships underway in the Gulf of Guinea in less than three days.

Piracy is a serious maritime threat in the Gulf region.

Attackers generally target ships to kidnap crew and hold them for ransom.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) recorded an ‘unprecedented rise’ in crew kidnappings in 2019. At least 120 seafarers were seized in the course of the year, up from 78 in 2018.

All vessels trading in the Gulf should adopt robust vessel hardening measures.

They should avoid slow steaming and watch for the approach of small vessels, especially at night.

They should be ready to take evasive action if approaching vessels behave suspiciously and if a vessel is in imminent danger of boarding, crew should be able to retreat to a citadel.

Reported and analysed by North and Gray Page

19/02/2020 Posn 33.44720449585786 - 13.250986328125009

Background

The port of Tripoli came under shell and missile fire on February 18.

At least three people were killed and five injured.

Libya’s state oil firm NOC said it had evacuated a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker and a gasoline tanker after a missile landed meters from where the LPG tanker had been discharging.

All fuel-offloading operations at the port were cancelled and NOC said it would be exploring other ways to supply Tripoli with fuel.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), one of the factions in Libya’s civil war, carried out the attack.

Assessment and Analysis

The security situation in Libya remains extremely volatile.

Libya’s UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) has failed to establish control in the country.

It had been in talks with the Libyan National Army (LNA) but suspended negotiations after the February 18 attack.

The LNA claimed it had been targeting a Turkish vessel bringing weapons but later said it had hit an arms depot.

The LNA already controls many of Libya’s ports. Tripoli, although it had been the scene of fighting in 2019, has remained in the hands of the GNA.

It was unclear in the aftermath of the attack how soon normal operations would be able to resume.

Port officials had been quoted as saying all vessels, not just tankers, had been moved.

Ships should to continue to exercise caution when entering Libyan ports and waters.

The security situation at any of the Libya’s ports, whether controlled by the GNA or the LNA, can change without warning.

Ships should stay in close contact with port authorities and ships’ agents to ensure they have up-to-date and reliable information.

They should follow official navigation routes and avoid navigating in coastal waters off the closed ports of Sirte and Derna.

Turkish ships and crews should avoid calling at any port controlled by the LNA as Turkey has been supporting the GNA.

Reported and analysed by North and Gray Page

18/02/2020 Posn 10.03 - -83.02

Background

Police in Costa Rica have discovered more than five tons of cocaine in a shipping container bound for Rotterdam.

Officials said it was the country’s largest ever drugs bust.

The drugs were seized at APM Terminals Moín, in the port of Limon, on February 15.

They were in a container carrying decorative plants.

One man was arrested.

On the same day as the bust in Costa Rica, police in the port of Rotterdam seized 500 kilograms of cocaine concealed in a shipment of mangos from Brazil.

Assessment and Analysis

This was the third major drugs haul in Costa Rica in less than two months.

In January 2020, in two separate drug seizures on the country’s west coast, police recovered almost a ton of cocaine.

Costa Rica has become an important transshipment hub for drugs from South America.

Limon in particular has been identified as an exit point for drugs headed to Europe.

Countrywide, Costa Rican security forces seized a record 30 tons of cocaine in 2019, a 20% increase on the year before.

Costa Rican ports recorded a throughput of almost 1.5 million TEUs in 2018.

Reported and analysed by North and Gray Page

17/02/2020 LC Posn 01.33 - 05.18

Background

Pirates attacked a containership while it was underway in the Gulf of Guinea.

Two skiffs approached the 5,380 TEU capacity MAERSK TEMA in daylight on February 14 while it was 100 nautical miles northwest of the islands of Sao Tome and Principe and making almost 20 knots.

Details given by the piracy reporting body Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) said two pirates were able to board.

A spokesperson for Bernhard Schulte Ship management, one of the operators of the containership, confirmed there had been an incident.

He gave few details beyond saying the crew had seen the skiffs approach and had initiated emergency produces.

Vessels from the Nigerian and Portuguese navies responded to calls for help but arrived after the attackers had fled.

The containership’s crew were unharmed and the vessel was able to proceed under escort.

Assessment and Analysis

The Gulf of Guinea is currently the highest risk area in the world for pirate attacks.

During 2019, pirates seized over 120 seafarers and attacked a wide range of vessels, sometimes as far as 170 nautical miles (nm) from the coast.

In January 2020, there were three attempts to board ships underway in less than three days.

Crews should exercise extreme caution while operating in the Gulf of Guinea and be alert fort the approach of small vessels.

The MAERSK TEMA was making some 20 knots when the skiffs approached. Nevertheless, maintaining speed and avoiding slow steaming is still recommended as a deterrent to attackers.

All vessels trading in the Gulf should adopt robust vessel hardening measures.

Ship should be ready to take evasive action if approaching vessels behave suspiciously and if a vessel is in imminent danger of boarding, crew should be able to retreat to a citadel.

Reported and analysed by North and Gray Page

13/02/2020 Posn 10.95 - -66.90

Background

Venezuela is demanding payment of port fees in its own digital currency, the Petro.

Various port services are covered by the change, including pilotage and towage.

It is not the first time Venezuela has moved to require payment in Petros.

This time however, a payment infrastructure for the Petro is in place, making it more likely that the latest decree will be enforced.

Among other things, there are reports that local shipping agents have been instructed to register for the ‘PetroApp’.

The decree on using the Petro, issued in mid-January, appears to be an attempt to boost the cryptocurrency and reduce Venezuela’s dependence on foreign currencies.

Assessment and Analysis

The Venezuelan government launched the Petro in early 2018.

It has failed to win investor confidence and US sanctions explicitly bar dealings in any cryptocurrency issued by the Venezuela government.

The marine insurer Standard Club says there is ‘a direct conflict between local Venezuelan requirements and US sanctions’.

It recommends that anyone planning trade to Venezuela take legal advice.

Crude buyers typically use shipping agencies based in Venezuela to pay port fees.

At least one oil company is reported to have halted purchases of Venezuelan crude since the policy on port fees was announced.

Venezuela’s conventional currency, the bolivar, has been devalued by rampant inflation and US sanctions prevent payments in US dollars .

Reported and analysed by North and Gray Page

12/02/2020 Posn 5.90 - 3.24

Background

The Nigerian authorities have suspended the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) outside Lagos.

The SAA was a joint project between a private Nigerian maritime security provider and the Nigerian Navy.

Nigeria’s Minister of Transport, speaking at the beginning of February, backed the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) view that maritime security should not be in the hands of a private company.

The NPA had argued that only the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria’s Navy and the Nigerian Marine Police had a legitimate role in policing the country’s waters.

Assessment and Analysis

The Lagos Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) was set up in 2014 in response to the threat of robbers boarding vessels waiting outside the port.

It was a partnership between the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian security firm, Ocean Marine Solutions (OMS).

Despite armed security provided by the Navy, there were numerous reports of vessels being illegally boarded while inside the SAA.

There was also concern that the Nigerian Navy was diverting resources away from other areas.

There was concern too that the charge levied on vessels staying in the anchorage was adding to the cost of doing business in Nigeria.

The closure of the anchorage, which was in an area some 12 nautical miles (nm) southwest of the Lagos coast, shows the determination of the authorities not to relinquish responsibility for security inside their own waters.

Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi said it was up to the government to safeguard shipping.

Reported and analysed by North and Gray Page