Maritime Security

Weekly Maritime Security Report

South East Asia Indonesia: Armed robbers target vessel at Merak Anchorage

20 May Three robbers armed with knives boarded a bulk carrier anchored at Merak Anchorage at 0225 hrs local time.

The assailants threatened a crew member on duty rounds before stealing ship's spares from the engine room and escaping. Indonesia: Robbers board underway tanker off Pulau Karimun Kecil

20 May Six robbers successfully boarded an underway tanker 2.5 nm east-northeast of Pulau Karimun Kecil at 0101 hrs local time.

A duty engineer sighted the robbers and sounded the alarm, prompting the assailants to flee empty-handed. PGI Analysis: Robberies are often reported off the Riau Islands, although assailants typically target vessels at anchor as they are easier to board. Most robberies occur overnight as thieves seek to take advantage of low visibility, underscoring the need for vigilance at all times when transiting and at anchor in the region.

West Africa Nigeria: Robbers attempt to board vessel at Lagos Anchorage

19 May Seven robbers attempted to board a bulk carrier anchored at Lagos Anchorage at 0102 hrs local time.

Duty crew noticed the robbers, raised the alarm and alerted security watchmen who then notified the local authorities, prompting the robbers to abandon the attempted boarding. Nigeria: Pirates board supply vessel in Okwori Field

16 May An unconfirmed number of pirates boarded an offshore supply vessel 39 nm southwest of Bonny Island at approximately 0720 hrs local time.

The pirates destroyed navigation and communications equipment and stole personal items from crew. Four members of the crew were reported to be missing. The vessel resumed its course towards its destination port following the attack.

PGI Analysis: Kidnap for ransom attacks are common off the Niger Delta area and perpetrators are typically armed and violent. It is likely the four missing crew members were kidnapped, as pirates are quick to abduct any crew who have failed to barricade themselves into the citadel in time. Pirates typically target vessels 10-150 nm off the coast of Nigeria, although some pirate activity has also been reported off Sao Tome and Principe in recent years.

Select Maritime News Brazil: Truck driver hurt during Santos protest

16 May Truck drivers blocked access to Santos port, Sao Paulo state, for 12 hours from 0600 hrs local time.

A freight carriers' union called the protest to highlight high fuel prices and the low value of freight in contracts. One truck driver who attempted to enter the port was injured in a skirmish with protesters. Cargo movements at the port were not affected but the protest disrupted the flow of traffic to the port.

Santos port has faced repeated disruption due to industrial action in recent months. China: Beijing prohibits oil, gas activities in China-claimed waters without permission

17 May China's Foreign Ministry has said that no country, company or organisation can carry out oil and gas activities in China-claimed waters without prior permission from Beijing.

The statement comes after a Rosneft Vietnam BV, a Vietnamese unit of Russian state oil firm Rosneft, started drilling in an area of the South China Sea that is claimed by Beijing. Cote d'Ivoire: Yamoussoukro, Accra to implement maritime boundary ruling

18 May Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana have begun implementing the ruling by the Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in relation to their shared maritime boundary.

The two countries began depositing coordinates of the line defined by the UN bodies involved in the ruling. The decision to implement the maritime boundary reaffirmed the commitment to cooperation in exploitation and utilisation of maritime resources between the two countries in the context of the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire in October 2017. India: Authorities issue cyclone warning for Gujarat ports

17 May Authorities at ports in Gujarat have warned fishing vessels not to operate in the Gulf of Aden and adjoining areas in the Arabian Sea until 20 May after the Indian Meteorological Department issued a cyclone warning for the region. The storm system will reportedly also hit parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Siddharthnagar, Kushinagar and Maharajganj.

Cyclones typically occur in India between May-June and October-November and can cause significant economic damage. Libya: Port workers protest unpaid salaries in Benghazi

15 May Workers of the Libyan Ports Company staged a protest in front of the city hall in the north-eastern city of Benghazi, local media reported.

The protesters demanded the payment of salary arrears. It was not immediately clear how many people took part in the protest. Philippines: Manila expresses concerns over Chinese bombers in South China Sea

21 May A spokesperson for President Rodrigo Duterte stated that the Philippines has concerns over the presence of Chinese strategic bombers on the disputed Paracel islands in the South China Sea. The Philippines foreign ministry is said to have taken 'appropriate diplomatic action' and President Duterte has avoided suggestions of direct confrontation with China over the issue.

China's actions have increased concerns from neighbouring states over the militarisation of Chinese islands in the South China Sea. Russia: President Putin opens contentious Crimean bridge

15 May Russian President Vladimir Putin has opened the newly constructed Kerch bridge to the annexed Crimean Peninsula.

He was filmed live on state television driving a Kamaz truck over the bridge. The move has been condemned by Ukraine, the EU and the US, which consider the annexation of Crimea in 2014 to be a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The bridge has been opened for cars and buses and will likely open for truck traffic in the autumn.

The railroad section is not expected to open until 2019. Spain: Police seize 15 tonnes of hashish

19 May The Spanish National Police intercepted a fishing boat sailing 110 nm off the eastern Spanish coast, carrying 15 tonnes of hashish.

The fishing boat was illegally sailing under a Maltese flag when it was spotted. All four of the ship's crew, consisting of a Bulgarian national and three Dutch citizens, were arrested. Southern Spain's proximity to the coast of North Africa make it a major entry point to Europe for drug trafficking from Africa and Latin America.

Turkey: Military chief urges caution from Athens over Aegean tensions

20 May Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar indirectly urged Greece to exercise caution after an increase in bilateral tensions over the Aegean Sea. Akar reportedly said that the Turkish military was ready to fulfil any tasks assigned to it in the Aegean and urged others not to make "miscalculations".

Long-standing tensions exist between the two NATO countries due to sovereignty claims over several disputed islets in the Aegean Sea. PGI Risk Portal Business performance relies on a good understanding of the environments in which you operate, invest, and travel.

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The PGI Risk Portal provides subscribers with up-to-date information and analysis on geo-political events, maritime security incidents and business-relevant threats worldwide.
Source: Protection Vessels International

Vietnam, Australia share concerns over regional maritime security

Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang and Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove agreed to boost cooperation to maintain peace which has been challenged in the region, according to a news conference in Hanoi on Thursday.

The politicians, who met during Cosgrove's three-day state visit, said there are now several factors that can affect regional stablility, including terrorism, transnational crime, cybersecurity, and maritime tension.

"We confirmed that Vietnam and Australia will continue the tight coordination at regional and international forums, including ASEAN, ASEAN-led institutions, and the U.N.," Quang told reporters.

"The two nations are on the same side about disputed issues in the East Sea and will work together to initiate the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)," he said, referring to the giant trade deal signed between Australia, Vietnam and nine other economies in March. Vietnam calls the South China Sea the East Sea.

Cosgrove also said that the two nations will boost cooperation in maritime security, peace keeping and education this year.

Both had agreed to deepen the strategic partnership signed in March when Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc visited Australia.

Vietnam and Australia established diplomatic relations in 1973. In 2017, Australia was Vietnam's eighth largest trade partner, while Vietnam was Australia's 14th largest, according to Vietnam's customs data.

Bilateral trade increased 22.7 percent from the previous year to £6.45 billion in 2017.

Vietnam's main exports to Australia include machinery and parts, electronic equipment, footwear, textiles and seafood, while it imports mostly metals, coal, wheat and cotton from Australia.

Newton Emerson: Post-Brexit Irish Sea border exists already

Last weekend, my wife flew from Belfast to Bristol to visit friends.

Despite travelling on an internal UK flight and carrying a full British passport, she was stopped on arrival by Border Force - the UK's immigration police - and questioned in a bizarre and dubious manner.

The Border Force officer was suspicious about a Chinese visa in my wife's passport - doubly so when he established it was to attend an engineering conference. There is a Canadian-owned aircraft factory in Belfast, he noted, and an Airbus plant in Bristol. Did my wife realise the Chinese are building their own airliners?

Did she know there are concerns about theft of intellectual property?

"There are people downstairs who would love to talk to you," he added, ominously.

Like most people from Northern Ireland, my wife knows the way to handle an interrogation is to stare at an imaginary spot on the wall. So with a poker face and one-word replies she was eventually allowed through after, she estimates, 10 minutes of this xenophobic nonsense.

The People's Liberation Army has many talents but disguising its spies as white women from Belfast is unlikely to be among them.

Because the officer maintained his own poker face, my wife cannot discount the possibility he was joking, chatting or showing off.

There is something tragicomic about guarding the frontier at Bristol Airport, where the terminal is so small just referring to "downstairs" sounds like a desperate boast.

Whatever the officer's motivations, the question is how any UK citizen can be stopped by immigration while travelling within their own country.

Apart from the indignity, what is the point? It is not as if you can be deported.

The obvious explanation would be the UK-Ireland Common Travel Area and the catch-22 behind it, whereby British and Irish citizens cannot be asked for their passports, although in order to prove their citizenship it is wise to carry their passports.

There might also be a vague sense of Northern Ireland anti-terrorism measures, in this case involving the Irish Sea security border we all pretend does not exist.

Terrorism Act 2000

What happened to my wife is certainly the future of the Common Travel Area, yet in origin and for the moment it has nothing to do with it - while the link to Northern Ireland security concerns is surprisingly thin.

The power of Border Force officers over British citizens travelling within the UK comes from the Terrorism Act 2000.

This was meant to be the UK's post-Troubles anti-terror legislation, moving the focus away from emergency powers for Northern Ireland and on to a more general and permanent footing.

It originally permitted police, immigration and customs officers to stop, question and detain UK citizens at ports and airports only while transiting in or out of Britain or Northern Ireland - creating an internal sea border, which was a specific Northern Ireland anti-terrorism measure.

The came 9/11.

Within two months, the Act had been amended to apply to all air and sea travel within the UK, including within Britain. Now it looked more like an emergency measure against Islamic terrorism, focused on the safety of aircraft.

There the law rested while the mission creep began. Northern Ireland residents were familiar with an internal security border, so few complained.

Various terrorist scares and incidents kept travellers within Britain acquiescent to growing Border Force intrusion.

Matters did not come to a head until 2014, the year of the Scottish referendum, when checks of flights from London to Scotland became spuriously politicised - especially when those being stopped were MPs.

Indignant questions were asked in the Commons but the Home Office pointed to the Terrorism Act and that MPs had done this to themselves.

An odd feature of the internal border regime against UK citizens is that while it is policed by immigration and customs officers, it is not about detecting immigration and customs offences - its sole legal premise is apprehending terrorists.

Hapless performance

The system has its own catch-22.

A UK citizen should only be stopped, questioned or detained where there are grounds to suspect they are a terrorist, yet to determine there are no grounds for suspicion, they may be stopped, questioned and detained.

After almost two decades on the statute books, this has plainly been accepted.

UK immigration minister Caroline Nokes appeared before MPs on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Tuesday to answer questions on passports, Brexit and the Border.

She was ridiculed for a hapless performance in which she confused basic points about British and Irish passport eligibility and admitted to having never read the Belfast Agreement.

However, she was able to give a crystal clear assurance that the Common Travel Area will continue after Brexit, despite concerns about Northern Ireland becoming a back door for immigration, because third-country nationals can be detected at ports and airports and the capacity to do this already exists.

Indeed it does - and it operates Bristol fashion.