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Protection Vessels International: Weekly Maritime Security Report

Philippines: Man robs vessel berthed at Davao terminal 2 September

A robber boarded a berthed product tanker in New Davao Oil Mill Terminal in the Philippines. The crew spotted the robber and raised the alarm, although he escaped with stolen ship’s properties. Further details of what was stolen were not immediately available.

PVI Analysis: Thefts at ports and anchorages in Southeast Asia, some of which have been violent, have increased after a lull in Q1 of 2016, although reports of hijackings for oil theft have significantly declined since August 2015. This steep decline has largely been attributed to the arrest of a number of hijacking rings and the decline in global oil prices, which has served to discourage hijacking for fuel theft.

Select Maritime News

France: Lorry drivers, farmers threaten major disruption at Calais over migrants 5 September

Major disruption is expected in Calais as a result of a protest by lorry workers and farmers at the French port. The protest will include a go-slow blockade of vehicles along the A16 motorway from Dunkirk and Boulogne to Calais. A further blockade is also threatened near the Channel Tunnel. Protest organisers estimate that between 80 lorries and 100 tractors will participate. Lorry drivers are complaining of increasing attacks by organised gangs and migrants, while farmers have said the growing size of the camp has led to the destruction of crops.

India: General strike halts business, port operations nationwide 2 September

A general strike by millions of workers has shut down ports, financial, telecommunication and manufacturing operations across India after 10 major trade unions called upon employees to protest against government labour reforms. Railways and bus services are still running as police have been deployed to stations to ensure services continue. The southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are among the worst affected. Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said the government had agreed to seven of the 12 demands made by unions, including wage revisions, although unions ignored government calls to suspend the strike.

India: Government increases financing to port expansion projects 29 August

The Ministry of Shipping announced it has boosted financing for ports across the country, increasing the scope of project Sagarmala, which aims to improve maritime infrastructure to promote shipping in India. The project is due to fund up to 50 percent of the cost of upgrading coastal berths for cargo and ferries, the mechanisation of berths, dredging projects and the construction of breakwaters. New Delhi is seeking to attract USD 60 bn in foreign investment to assist with the country’s port development projects.

Iraq: Baghdad blacklists three companies over Kurdish oil exports 30 August

According to reports from Reuters, Iraq’s state oil firm SOMO blacklisted three oil tankers over their shipment of crude from semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. SOMO said it would no longer allow the vessels Maran Centaurus, Four Smile and SN Olivia to enter Iraqi ports or export crude from fields controlled by Baghdad. It was unclear if the move would have any impact on talks between Baghdad and Kurdish authorities to resolve a long-running dispute over exports of oil from the Kurdistan region.

Italy: Coast guard announces rescue of 13,000 migrants in four days 1 September

The Italian coast guard announced that in four days, between 28-31 August, it recovered 13,000 migrants from vessels crossing the Mediterranean from the Libyan coast. On 29 August alone, 6,600 migrants were rescued. An improvement in weather conditions on the Mediterranean and ongoing lawlessness in Libya have been blamed for the surge in attempts by migrant smugglers to cross the sea.

Japan: Defence ministry seeks record spending to counter regional threats 31 August

The Ministry of Defence has requested a 2.3 percent budget increase to record levels of USD 51.47 bn from 1 April 2017, to counter China’s aggressive moves in the contested East China Sea and North Korea’s ballistic missile programme. If approved, it would mark the fifth consecutive annual increase as Japan’s defence forces seek to build a mobile amphibious force from scratch to protect the southern edge of the East China Sea and to upgrade Patriot missile defence systems.

Kuwait: Authorities seize 160 kg cannabis 31 August

Security officials said that drugs officers seized 160 kg of cannabis shipped by sea from Iran. Initial reports did not clarify the precise location of the seizure. Police arrested one Gulf national during the operation and two other individuals following an investigation. Drug trafficking is common in Kuwait and authorities often seize shipments coming from Lebanon or Iran.

Libya: Navy acknowledges firing shots at MSF vessel on 17 August 30 August

A spokesperson for the Libyan navy confirmed its forces were responsible for an incident on 17 August involving a vessel of the NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). Naval personnel had incorrectly thought that the vessel was involved in oil smuggling, and fired warning shots, prompting the crew to retreat into a safe room. The Libyan navy claimed that the vessel, the Bourbon Argos, did not respond to calls and tried to change course, but MSF denied any clear identification or communication from official personnel.

New Zealand: Earthquake, small tsunami hits east coast 2 September

A powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake, several 6.0 magnitude aftershocks and a minor tsunami struck 169 km northeast of Gisborne, causing tremors across the east coast of the North Island and the upper South Island at 0437 hrs local time. The seismic activity prompted residents to seek higher ground, though no injuries were reported. However, authorities warned of stronger currents in the area that could affect harbour activities.

Peru: Gunmen board bulk carrier off Callao 27 August

Three gunmen boarded a bulk carrier anchored in Callao anchorage at 0130 hrs local time. A crewmember notified the bridge, who activated the alarm system before they took him hostage at gunpoint. The robbers fled after the alarm was activated. All crew were reported safe and no items were identified as stolen.

Philippines: Manila says concerned about Chinese boats near disputed area 5 September

The Philippines expressed “grave concern” over the increasing number of Chinese boats near the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. A Philippines air force plane flew over the rocky outcrop on 3 September and sighterd more boats than usual in a flotilla that China has maintained since seizing the shoal after a tense standoff in 2012, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters. The waters around the shoal are thought to contain rich stocks of fish. The development follows China’s refusal to abide by a July ruling by an international court that dismissed its historical claims to the South China Sea in a case brought by the Philippines.

Philippines: Manila says China must recognise South China Sea ruling 30 August

Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay emphasised that Beijing must recognise the Hague’s ruling on the South China Sea, which states China has no historical title over the sea and that it has breached the Philippine’s sovereign rights. Yasay also said it was attempting to secure a deal with China to allow Philippine fishermen access to Chinese waters, ahead of formal bilateral talks with Beijing, which are expected to start within the next 12 months. Beijing has rejected the international arbitration ruling, although it has said it is committed to resolving disputes over the sea.

Spain: Police seize 900 kg of cocaine in Cadiz 4 September

According to local media, customs officers seized 900 kg of cocaine hidden in a container of bananas from Colombia at the Algeciras port in Cadiz. Officials also arrested three suspected drug traffickers following the seizure. Spain is a hub for the trafficking of drugs entering Europe and seizures are common.

Sri Lanka: Former defence secretary indicted for corruption 31 August

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption has indicted the brother of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on corruption charges. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is one of eight defendants charged with causing nearly USD 75 mn in losses to the state. The case relates to an illegal floating armoury set up in the port of Galle between August 2012 and January 2015. The floating armoury was set up by a private company during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure, although was deemed to be a breach of the country’s sovereignty and was seized by police after Rajapaksa lost the January 2015 election.

Tunisia: Logistics workers to strike nationwide on 5 September 31 August

According to a Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) statement, workers with the Tunisian Commercial Society logistics company have decided to carry out a strike from 5-7 September. The company operates services in ports and airports nationwide and the strike is likely to trigger delays to freight deliveries across Tunisia. The strike was called to denounce the failure to implement wage increases agreed to as part of a reconciliation deal in April 2015.

Turkey: Broken down tanker closes Bosphorus strait 31 August

A Greek-flagged oil tanker suffering from an engine failure blocked the Bosphorus strait, causing authorities to close the waterway between 1700 hrs and 1930 hrs local time while authorities deployed a tug boat to escort the vessel to safety. The strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, is a key transit route for oil tankers, although it is only half a mile wide at its narrowest point, making it prone to blockages.

United Arab Emirates: Developer to expand Khalifa Port 29 August

Port developer and operator Abu Dhabi Ports has announced plans to expand the deepwater and semi-automated container port Khalifa Port to allow it to handle larger container and cargo ships. The expansion is due to add 1,000 m of quay wall and to deepen the port’s main channel and basin by 2 m, to add a further 600,000 sq m of cargo handling space. The expansion is set to be completed by mid-2018.

United States: Offshore oil platforms shut ahead of Gulf of Mexico storm 29 August

Six offshore oil production platforms have suspended operations and evacuated staff in the Gulf of Mexico, ahead of a tropical storm which is due to make landfall north of Tampa, Florida, on 31 August. The storm, currently a tropical depression, is expected to be upgraded to a tropical storm before it makes landfall. The storm is due to bring heavy rainfall and high wind speeds to the Gulf region and Cuba.

Yemen: Houthi forces clash with loyalists over Midi port 4 September

Pro-Houthi forces launched an offensive against pro-government forces in Hajjah province, with the assault centred on the port of Midi. The area is under the control of forces loyal to Yemen’s recognised government, and the fighting left at least 11 pro-government soldiers dead and 28 others wounded. Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck at least 15 pro-Houthi targets, slowing their advance. Midi port reportedly remained under the control of loyalist forces.

Source: Protection Vessels International