Solace Global Maritime Weekly Snapshot – Week 51

18 December: A Russian cargo vessel ran aground off English coast A Russian cargo ship ran aground off Cornwall after its anchor dragged in high winds. The vessel began to list 5 degrees before tugs intervened and rescued the ship at high tide.   Gulf of Guinea
14 December: Chemical tanker fired upon Armed pirate sin a speed boat fired on an underway chemical tanker. Onboard AST returned fire. Pirates then aborted their attack. 15 December: Attack on MV 84nm WSW of Brass, Nigeria A merchant vessel was reportedly attacked 84nm off Brass. Both the vessel and crew were reported safe. 19 December: Kidnapped crew, including Poles, freed Poland’s foreign ministry announced that eleven foreign crew, including eight Poles, who were kidnapped by pirates off the Nigerian coast in October have been freed.   Americas
14 December: Failed robbery attempt reported at Puerto Jose Anchorage, Venezuela Four robbers were sighted on the forecastle of an anchored crude oil tanker. Nothing was reported stolen following a search of the vessel. A patrol boat responding to the incident also carried out a search of the surrounding waters.   Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean
13 December: Suspicious approach on MV A Philippines-flagged crude oil tanker was approached at high speed by between 15 and 20 skiffs all carrying four or five persons. Onboard ASTs fired warning shots which resulted in the skiffs abandoning the approach. The vessel and crew were reported safe after the incident. 14 December: Second arms seizure off Somalia coast in six days An Indian Navy vessel, that had been deployed as part of anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, seized arms from a fishing vessel off the coast of Somalia.  This is the vessels second such seizure in six days.   South East Asia 
9 December: LATE report of boarding of MV at Tanjung Anchorage in Indonesia Duty watchman onboard an anchored bulk carrier noticed three suspected thieves on deck. All the crew were mustered to the bridge and the authorities were notified.  Local security forces boarded the vessel to investigate. It is unclear if any arrests were made. 9 December: LATE report of a robbery and boarding on MV at Cam Pha Anchorage, Vietnam During routine rounds, the duty crew onboard an anchored bulk carrier in Cam Pha Anchorage noticed a number of suspected thieves armed with bladed weapons and bamboo sticks. The alarm was raised and the crew mustered. Following the alarm, the thieves escaped on a wooden boat with some of the ship’s stores. 14 December: Law enforcement agencies hold anti-piracy drills off Manila Bay A series of drills were conducted with the Philippine Maritime Law Enforcement Agency, simulating potential piracy scenarios, in an effort to boost the capability of the authorities when responding to suspected piracy.   A Closer Look
The Polish foreign ministry has confirmed that eleven foreigners who were kidnapped at the end of October have been freed The Polish foreign ministry has confirmed that eleven foreign crew members, including eight Polish nationals, who were kidnapped in October have been freed. The ministry did not give details regarding the conditions of their release. The crew, which is also reported to included two Filipinos and a Ukrainian, were taken when a German-owned Liberian-flagged vessel was attacked and boarded off the coast of Nigeria. According to the ministry, this is the fifth case in which Polish sailors have been kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea since 2013. The waters in the area remain the most dangerous with attacks regularly reported. Honduran Naval Force (FNH) has bolstered its crime response fleet with the purchase of two new speedboats The vessels, MMI 35s, have been bought from Colombia’s Science and Technology Corporation for Naval, Maritime, and Riverine Industry Development (COTECMAR) in an effort to tackle narcotrafficking and transnational crime in the Caribbean. The vessels will also help tackle crime on a regional level. The vessels will be built in the next 12 months by SAFE Boats International. They will both have a range of 250nm and “possess the cutting edge in technology”. In 2018, the FNH carried out more than 3,300 maritime operations. With the acquisition of the MMI 35, service members expect to disrupt transnational crime rings and reduce the violence derived from narcotrafficking. The President of Pakistan has stated that the country’s armed forces, especially the navy, are doing an effective job President Dr. Arif Alvi said that the Pakistani armed forces are one of the most experienced armed forces in the world and the government are proud of their armed forces. He especially mentioned the Pakistani navy, as they, despite their limited resources, have “effectively safeguarded the maritime frontiers of the motherland”. He also mentioned that steps had been taken to stop “foreign intervention” in Balochistan. The President said that trade activities will be increased in the future due to Gwadar Port. However, he also underlined the need for the construction of new vessels for the Navy. Though he did say that the navy’s engineers were highly capable and ready for the job. There was also a final point on the need for a clean coastline to “promote tourism” and said that the Karachi Coast was particularly vulnerable. The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency has alleged that the International Maritime Bureau is misrepresenting Nigeria on Piracy reporting The Nigerian government’s Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has alleged that the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) is misrepresenting piracy in Nigeria by overstating the issue. In a meeting with the IMB the director of NIMASA, Dr. Peterside Dakuku. expressed his anger at the IMB delegation; stating that the country’s reputation was being distorted. The director general added that such distortions could result in reputational damage to the country amongst the international community. The director has also stated that Nigeria is making great strides to tackle piracy and noted that the country had invested in a new satellite surveillance system (mentioned in November’s Maritime Monthly). Additionally, he also explained that NIMASA had proposed a new anti-piracy bill, saying the law would give the agency the authority to prosecute maritime related crimes. The law is currently being considered by politicians in the Nigerian government. The Nigerian Navy has seen significant investment in both equipment and training in an effort to give the military a better footing to combat the increased threat. The Nigerian Navy now has 179 high-speed boats which are being deployed to combat pirate activities. The navy has also stated that it is “winning” the fight against sea pirates citing their improved presence at sea is reducing the incidence of piracy. The navy has attributed this stated success to the adoption of the Maritime Domain Awareness Infrastructure strategy launched a few years ago. However, despite the claims by the country’s navy and the affirmations made by the director of NIMASA, the latest figures from the IMB show that the threat of piracy in Nigerian waters is rising not dropping. The country’s waters are among the most dangerous in the world; according to a report by Brookings (incidents in territorial waters 2018 shown below). However, the IMB noted that the Nigerian navy has taken steps to tackle the threat.