Week 46-47 – Maritime Security Snapshot

The main area of activity in the past two weeks has been in the Gulf of Guinea. There have been numerous boardings and attacks; this includes a kidnapping that required Nigerian Navy intervention. By contrast, the Indian Ocean HRA has been relatively quiet over the past weeks with no significant incidents since the attack on 16 October off the Somali coast and the two suspicious approaches in Bab el Mandeb Strait at the beginning of November. Elsewhere, the Mediterranean has been seeing GPS outages near Port Said and Cyprus since March. While it remains unclear what is causing these disruptions, it is likely that military operations by both the Egyptian military and the Russian Navy are the cause. Please see below for more:

Gulf of Guinea

11 November: Vessel attacked and boarded by armed men near Bonny, Nigeria. A drifting UK-flagged bulk carrier was attacked and boarded by armed pirates at position 4°7’0 N 7°0’0 E. The boarders stole ship stores, robbed the vessel and kidnapped 10 members of the crew before escaping. Nigerian Navy vessels intercepted the pirates and freed the hostages. 11 November: MV attacked by armed men in blue boat, Niger River, Nigeria. A MV was attacked by eight armed men at 0600 UTC 2nm off the mouth of the River Niger, Nigeria. The attackers were in a small blue-coloured boat, wore black/dark clothes, and covered their faces. The security team onboard the vessel thwarted the attack; however, the assailants escaped. 14 November: Tanker boarded near Lagos, Nigeria. An intruder was spotted onboard by a crewmember who sounded the alarm. As the crew gathered, the intruder fled by jumping overboard. No items were stolen and no injuries to the crew were reported. The authorities are investigating the incident. 14 November: A black speedboat with six armed men onboard sighted in Emeroke Channel, Nigeria It is unclear what the target of the suspicious vessel was. This is the second such sighting of a suspicious vessel in the area.  On 5 November a similar vessel with armed men on board was sighted near Akwa Ibom Creeks. 19 November: The Nigerian Navy has impounded 52 vessels and arrested 40 people for alleged piracy. According to the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Habila Ngalabak, the arrests have occurred over the past two to three months as part of a push against piracy-related activities in this period. 22 November: Nigerian flagged vessel boarded by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, south of Kwa Ibo. The crew took refuge in the citadel as the pirates boarded the vessel. The boarders left via a blue hulled boat before a security vessel managed to intervene. The crew is reported safe and no crewmen were kidnapped. However, there was some damage to the bridge. The direction that the pirates escaped in is unknown.

Bab El-Mandeb Strait 

November: Arab Coalition Forces destroy 16 naval mines off Yemen’s west coast. According to Arab coalition sources, the mines had been planted by Houthi militants in international waters. It is unclear if further mines remain in the area.


11 November: Multiple instances of GPS interference reported by vessels and aircraft operating in the Eastern Mediterranean. These reports have been concentrated near Port Said and the Suez Canal, Egypt, as well as in the vicinity of the Republic of Cyprus. Additional instances of similar interference were reported in October 2018 near Jeddah Port, Saudi Arabia.  This interference results in the loss of, or altering of, GPS signals; affecting bridge navigation, GPS-based timing and communications equipment. 17 November: Six Greenpeace activists boarded tanker Stolt Tenacity in Gulf of Cadiz Greenpeace reportedly targeted the vessel as a sign of protest against rainforest destruction in Indonesia; as the ship was carrying palm oil products from Wilmar International. According to Greenpeace, Wilmar is a major supplier to global snack food giant Mondelez; one of the world’s largest purchasers of palm oil. The captain of the vessel detained the borders.

Persian Gulf and India

17 November: Boarding at Kakinada Anchorage in India. Unnoticed, robbers boarded an anchored product tanker, stole ship’s stores and escaped. The theft was noticed during routine rounds. Port control and agents were informed. 18 November: Iranian Navy vows to maintain its presence on the high seas. An Iranian Navy commander has vowed that Iran’s navy is vital to secure the country’s interests despite threats from the US and a recent incident with UK destroyer HMS Diamond. He also insisted that the country’s “strong” navy would maintain its presence on the high seas so that other countries will not “take advantage”. There was also talk of the Iranian navy operating in the Atlantic “whenever necessary”.
Click link to Download PDF: Solace Global Maritime Security Snapshot – Week 46-47 A roundup of maritime security incidents – an easy to read format collating suspicious approaches, vessel attacks, boardings, hijacks and media reports. This week’s Maritime Security Snapshot was compiled by Solace Global’s in-house intelligence team.