Solace Global Maritime Summary – April/May 2019

Solace Global Maritime Summary – April/May 2019

REPORT • May 2019

Monthly report produced by Solace Global Maritime Security, summarising maritime incidents in areas of high-risk piracy and other security threats, covering April and the beginning of May 2019.

Key Points

Solace Global Maritime Security compile a monthly report, summarising maritime incidents in areas of high-risk piracy and other security threats.
The report is researched and collated by the Solace Global in-house intelligence team.

The report covering March looks at the following areas:

  • High Risk Area (Indian Ocean)
  • Gulf of Guinea & West Coast of Africa
  • South East Asia
  • Americas
  • Europe

INDIAN OCEAN

The biggest story in the region in the past weeks has been the attack on four vessels off the coast of Fujairah port, United Arab Emirates. It remains unclear who carried out what is being termed as an act of sabotage; with no claims of responsibility forthcoming at the time of writing. To read more, see our Maritime brief at: https://www.solaceglobal.com/news/2019/05/14/fujairah-maritime-brief/

The incident was followed by an alleged drone attack on Saudi Arabian oil and gas infrastructure. As a result, there has been an increase in tension in the region which have coincided with the deployment of a US carrier group. The United States had been planning to deploy a carrier battle group and a bomber group to the Middle East prior to these incidents with the deployments, according to the US intelligence service, a reaction to ‘the increased Iranian threat against US interests.’ At this time, it is unclear exactly when the carrier group will arrive in the region or what the exact composition of the fleet will be.

The deployment also comes after the Iranian Revolutionary Guard allegedly managed to capture drone footage of an American aircraft carrier, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency. The footage shows the USS Dwight D Eisenhower with numerous aircraft on the carrier’s deck. Tasnim did not say when the footage was shot; however, according to a US naval spokeswoman, the USS Dwight D Eisenhower has not been in the Gulf since 2016.

Another noticeable change in the region is the shrinking of the High Risk Area (HRA).  These changes have shrunk the size of the HRA (map below) in relation to the attacks that have occurred in the past five years. Otherwise, there was only one notable incident in the region: an attempted attack on two trawlers some 250 nautical miles off the Somali.

Following the terror attack in Sri Lanka on 25 April, the Indian Coast Guard are on high alert along the maritime boundary. According to intelligence sources, there are fears that those behind the deadly attacks may attempt to escape from Sri Lanka and try to enter India via a sea route. As a result, a number of vessels and Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft have been deployed on the maritime border with Sri Lanka with the aim of with preventing any attempt by terrorists to escape to India.

As part of the increased security measures, on Monday, 22 April, the Indian Coast Guard apprehended four Indian fishermen from the 4th islet in Rama Setu near Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram Island. They were later released after being interrogated at the Mandapam Coast Guard station.

Indian Intelligence is acutely aware of the threats posed by terrorists using boats as part of their attacks. This is due to the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008; with the perpetrators using a boat to travel from Pakistan to India. The use of speedboats also gave the attackers access deep into Mumbai to quickly launch their attack.

Finally, there are concerns that the new European Subsidies for the EU Fishing Fleet Could Devastate the Seychelles’ Tuna Stocks. The European Parliament voted, on 4 April, to affirm a proposal to re-introduce fishing subsidies in the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund in the post-2020 fund. The decision could upgrade Europe’s fishing fleet, threatening the island nation’s fisheries sector.

DATE NOTABLE MARITIME INCIDENTS IN HIGH RISK AREA AND EAST AFRICA
21 April Two trawlers were involved in an incident early on 21 April approximately 248nm SE of Mogadishu, Somalia. One trawler approached by two skiffs with between eight and ten people on board. The second trawler went to provide aid and was fired upon. Embarked AST returned fire and skiffs left the area. Both trawlers and their crews were declared safe.

GULF OF GUINEA AND WEST COAST OF AFRICA

The Gulf of Guinea continues to see a severe level of piracy. The most notable incidents in the past few weeks include the kidnapping of six crewmembers at the Bonny Outer Anchorage, Nigeria on 19 April and the 5 May hijacking of a vessel in Equatorial Guinean waters around 90nm south of Bonny Island. On 16 April, the Nigerian military destroyed a major oil smuggling hub.

On 19 April, six crew members of a Palau-flagged tanker were kidnapped by pirates off Nigeria. The incident occurred at the Bonny Outer Anchorage where the Apecus was boarded by a number of pirates. The remaining crew were reported safe, the Nigerian Navy has been notified and an investigation into the incident has been launched. Prior to this incident, on 9 April, an unidentified vessel was freed by a Spanish warship after being held hostage for four days.

The attack on 5 May involved seven armed pirates boarding the heavy load carrier Blue Marlin at around 1200 UTC SW of Luba port, Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. The crew had managed to retreat to the citadel as the pirates boarded. The attackers then demanded that the crew surrender, giving all money and valuables to them. After their demands were rejected, the pirates found a gap to fire into the citadel; however, they were unable to hit any of the crew.

While the situation was unfolding, the vessel’s distress signal had alerted Operations and Surveillance Center of the Navy (COVAM) who informed and dispatched the nearby Spanish patrol vessel to lend aid. On the morning of 6 May, Special Naval Warfare Force (FGNE) members from the Servola P-71 freed the hijacked vessel. It remains unclear if the pirates were killed, captured or managed to escape. It is understood that the vessel was then escorted to the nearest port.

Solace Global Comment: This attack, coupled with the kidnappings and the numerous other attacks occurring throughout the region for the past months, demonstrate the severe piracy risk that vessels face when transiting the Gulf of Guinea; especially in proximity to Nigerian waters. Furthermore, the efforts by countries in the region, especially Nigeria, to address this risk has been less than adequate.

On land, the Nigerian army has destroyed one of the biggest illegal oil camps in the Niger Delta controlled and operated by oil thieves. The soldiers, according to the reports, destroyed 700 oil drums, 150 storage tanks, and approximately sixty boats on 16 April. The operation was part of an attempt by the Nigerian government to crack down on illegal operations in the region.

Further south, away from the Gulf of Guinea, two people died onboard the Russian-flagged Antartic supply vessel, Vasiliy Golovnin on 25 April.  The vessel had been en route to Cape Town before delivering supplies and replacement research teams to the Indian Antarctic Scientific bases, Bharati and Maitri. In a statement, the company operating the vessel said that the individuals had died in an accident and not while performing their duties or due to the weather conditions.

DATE NOTABLE MARITIME INCIDENTS IN GULF OF GUINEA AND WEST AFRICA
5 April Nine pirates armed with automatic weapons and an RPG boarded a Nigeria-flagged tanker undergoing sea trials near Lagos, Nigeria. Duty officer raised the alarm and crew took shelter. The pirates took the duty officer hostage and instructed all the crew members to come out of hiding. They damaged the navigation and communication equipment, stole crew and ship property, locked the crew in one cabin and took the Master as hostage. On 9 April, a Spanish Navy Warship tried to establish communication with the tanker. Upon receiving no response, the warship approached the tanker, resulting in the pirates escaping. The Master told the naval boarding team that they had been held hostage for four days. After investigations the naval boarding team disembarked. While continuing on the voyage the tanker’s main engines were shut down due to overheating. The C/E noticed an ingress of water in the engine room, which was fixed. Without communication equipment the tanker was adrift for 12 days before being able to hail a fishing boat allowing the Master to establish contact with the owners who arranged for the tanker to be towed to Ghana. The tanker arrived at Ghana anchorage on 22 April.
8 April Underway MV reported suspicious approach around 17nm South of Kwa Ibo coast, Nigeria. Further details were limited; however, the vessel appears to have continued its journey unimpeded.
9 April An underway Nigeria-flagged oil tanker was observed by a Spanish naval patrol boat to be conducting erratic manoeuvres around 83nm SW of Brass, Nigeria. The Spanish PB noted that the tanker AIS not transmitting and on approach a fast boat with nine suspected pirates was seen departing the vicinity. The tanker Captain reported that the vessel had been attacked, boarded & hijacked by pirates carrying AK-47 and RPG four days prior. No injuries were sustained by the 12 crew members and the vessel was able to proceed to safe port after replenishment of food.
15 April Four persons on a speed boat armed with automatic weapons approached an anchored product tanker in Bonny River Inner Anchorage, Nigeria. Two persons managed to board the tanker and open fire towards the accommodation. The onboard Nigerian naval guards returned fire, resulting in the persons retreating onto their boat and escaping. One guard was injured during the shooting and was given first aid by the crew. Two security boats responded and approached the tanker. The injured guard was transferred to a security boat and taken ashore for medical assistance. The remaining crew reported safe.
16 April The Nigerian army has destroyed one of the biggest illegal oil camps in the Niger Delta controlled and operated by oil thieves, local media report. The soldiers, according to the reports, destroyed 700 oil drums, 150 storage tanks, and some sixty boats.
19 April An anchored Palau-flagged tanker was boarded by a number of unauthorised persons who kidnapped six crew members and escaped at 1330 UTC in position Bonny Outer Anchorage, Nigeria. The remaining crew reported safe.  The Nigerian navy was notified, and investigations are ongoing.
20 April A tanker was attacked off Bonny Island, Nigeria. Vessels in the area were advised to exercise caution in the region. Further details were not readily available.
24 April Duty AB while on deck rounds reported robbers onboard near Lagos Anchorage, Nigeria. The ships’ alarm was raised immediately, upon hearing the alarm, the robbers jumped overboard and escaped. The NNS RANGER was informed of the incident and deployed to assist the vessel. The ship and crew are reportedly safe.
25 April Three robbers in a small craft approached and boarded an anchored Marshall Islands-flagged tanker in Lagos Anchorage, Nigeria. Duty AB on routine rounds noticed the robbers near the cargo tank and notified the OOW. The alarm was raised, PA announcement made, and crew mustered. Hearing the alarm and seeing the crew alertness, the robbers jumped overboard along with their hose and escaped in their boat. The incident was reported to a naval patrol boat. Nothing was reported stolen.
27 April Two foreign workers and one Nigerian national were kidnapped from an oil rig in Nigeria’s Delta region early on 27 April. As many as 12 gunmen are believed to have been involved in the attack which took place at around 08:00 local time. The incident marked the second such attack in the space of a week.
28 April Early on 28 April, an anchored MV was boarded by two robbers armed with long knives Ango Ango Inner Anchorage, DR Congo. The deck watch spotted the robbers and the Chief Officer raised the alarm. The Master then ordered crew to proceed to the citadel. The robbers stole mooring ropes and left the vessel without injuring any crew members.
3 May An MV was reportedly attacked early evening on 3 May around 97nm of Brass, Nigeria. Shots were fired toward the vessel while the master ordered evasive measures. The pirates were ultimately unsuccessful in boarding the vessel.
3 May Duty crew onboard an anchored tanker noticed two robbers near the cargo tank with a hose in the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA), Lagos, Nigeria. The vessel’s alarm was raised, and a PA announcement made. Seeing the alerted crew, the robbers escaped in their boat with their hose. A patrol boat was informed and came to search the area. Nothing was reportedly stolen.
5 May The heavy load carrier Blue Marlin was reportedly attacked 92nm SSE of Bonny Island, Nigeria. By Monday, 6 May, evening, it was reported that the vessel and crew were safe and remained under military escort.
7 May Offshore supply vessel boarded by two robbers in the Federal Ocean Terminal, Onne Port, Nigeria. Robbers used a canoe to reach the vessel. Duty Ab spotted them, raised the alarm and the robbers escaped empty handed.
12 May Anchored Togo-flagged chemical tanker boarded in Lomé anchorage, Togo. Eight armed perpetrators in a canoe approached and boarded the vessel. Togo naval ops observed erratic manoeuvres and were unable to contact the vessel, subsequently despatched a naval team to investigate. On arriving on scene, the team boarded the vessel, arrested eight suspected pirates (6 Nigerian and 2 Togolese nationals). The perpetrators were handed over to the Maritime Gendarmerie for further investigation. The tanker was then escorted to Lomé.

SOUTH EAST ASIA

There was a number of incidents in Asia in the past month; however, when compared with West Africa, the area is enjoying a relatively quiet period. The continued operations by the Philippine military against Abu Sayyaf have stifled the militant group’s ability to conduct operations in the region. Despite the positives, tensions around the South China Sea continue to impact the region, with the disputed area continuing to be used as part of the ongoing trade disputes between China and the United States.

Singapore Maritime Week (SMW) 2019 ran from 6 to 14 April at Marina Square central atrium in the city-state. The nine-day event was held emphasising connectivity, innovations and talent, as well as commemorating Singapore’s Bicentennial. Many of the companies in attendance, as well as the line-up and conferences, focused on strengthening Singapore’s connectivity and linkages with the global maritime industry. The event is part of Singapore’s efforts to help build a “future-ready” and skilled maritime workforce.

Taiwan has issued a request for a tender to build a new amphibious vessel for its navy. The tender is set to close on 10 May, with the first of the ships expected to enter service in 2021. The navy has allocated up to 207million USD for the project. The vessels will be used to support amphibious operations and transport tasks, as well as to act as hospital ships and take part in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in peacetime. The vessels will replace a trio of former American Amphibious transport docks.

Additionally, the region also saw a number of incidents between vessels; one of which resulted in a fatality. On 23 April, a Thailand-flagged LPG flagged tanker, the NP Bangpakong, collided with a coastal fishing vessel in the Gulf of Siam. The incident occurred at 14:45 local time around 8 nautical miles off the west coast of Koh Chang island, in Trat Province, Thailand. The tanker is understood to have assisted in rescue operations following the incident; it is unclear if poor weather conditions contributed to the incident.On 6 May, China told two US warships to turn back after they sailed near the disputed Islands in the South China Sea without permission from Beijing. The move comes amid heightened tension between Beijing and Washington over trade tariffs, sanctions and Taiwan. According to reports, the US guided-missile destroyers Preble and Chung-Hoon came within 12 nautical miles of the Gaven and Johnson reefs; which are considered by Beijing to be in Chinese waters. Both the reefs have been turned into artificial islands with military instillations by the Chinese government. According to reports, the military bases on the islands are armed with anti-aircraft guns, CIWS missile-defence systems and naval guns.

Elsewhere, two ferries collided on 22 April near the port of Merak, Java, Indonesia at around 16:30 local time. Both vessels suffered extensive damage; including hull breaches on one of the vessels, the Windu Karsa Dwitya. A witness from the scene stated that a crewmember fell overboard during the incident and is still missing. Additionally, one passenger required immediate hospitalisation.

The bulk carrier Wise Honest, which was detained in Indonesia in April 2018, has been seized by the United States for breaching North Korean sanctions. The US had filed a seizure warrant in July last year and on 9 May, it was announced that Indonesia had handed over the ship, and the vessel was now on its way to the US. The announcement came right after North Korea carried out two weapons tests in the space of a week; in what is widely seen as an attempt to increase pressure on the US over its failure to make concessions over sanctions. However, American officials stressed that the announcement had nothing to do with the North Korean tests.

DATE NOTABLE MARITIME INCIDENTS IN SOUTH EAST ASIA
23 April An underway Cyprus-flagged tugboat towing a backhoe dredger was boarded by two robbers at about early morning approximately 5nm WNW of Nipa island, Indonesia. Two wooden boats were sighted alongside the dredger. The Master shone light at the towed vessel, and the two robbers escaped via the wooden boats. The crew were reported safe and no items were reported stolen. The pilot on board the tugboat reported the incident to Singapore’s VTIS, who initiated the safety navigational broadcast and notified the Singapore Police Coast Guard, the RSN and the Indonesian authorities.
24 April An underway Malaysia-flagged tugboat towing a barge was boarded by three to four robbers early on 24 April morning just off Tanjung Piai, Malaysia. The master reported the incident to Singapore’s VTIS who informed the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA). The crew were reported safe and no items were reported stolen.
26 April Two robbers boarded a berthed container ship at 2105 UTC in position Jakarta Container Terminal, Indonesia. The duty oiler on routine rounds noticed the robbers in the engine room and raised the alarm. Hearing the alarm, the robbers escaped empty handed. A search was made throughout the ship and nothing was reported stolen.
10 May Unidentified persons in a speedboat approached and closed onto a bulk carrier underway. The vessel’s alarm was raised, the crew were mustered, and fire hoses pressurised at around 1 am local, 115nm East of Baganga, Philippines. The persons were observed to be shouting towards the ship while holding steel hooks. After 30 mins of chasing, the boat aborted and moved away. The targeted vessel resumed her passage.
11 May Unnoticed robbers boarded an anchored bulk carrier and escaped with engine spare parts in Lubuk Gaung Anchorage, Dumai Port, Indonesia. The 3rd engineer noticed the robbery when he went to the engine room and found the spare parts room broken into. Alarm raised and a search was carried out.

AMERICAS

The Americas have seen a much more active month with numerous incidents occurring across the region. In addition to an increase in maritime incidents, there has been a continued increase in the threat level from Venezuela; both on the sea by desperate fishermen targeting Trinidadian vessels and on land as unrest continues to cause widespread violence and disruptions. Additionally, the US Coast Guard (USCG) is continuing to see success in tackling the illicit drug trade in the Caribbean.

The majority of the incidents in the region have been attempted robberies of vessels at anchor. In most cases, crews have not been targeted and no injuries were reported. However, an attack on a yacht off the coast of Panama resulted in the death of a New Zealand national; as well as injuries of two others. The incident happened 2 nautical miles northeast of San Ignacio de Tupile. According to sources, the boat was boarded and an escalation into violence occurred when the family on the yacht investigated the noises.

The pirates are understood to have been armed with machetes and rifles. The man was shot and killed while the two others, a woman and the couple’s daughter, received machete wounds. The attackers have been identified, along with a minor who is alleged to not have taken part in the attacks on the individuals but was involved in boarding the vessel, and they have been charged with aggravated homicide, robbery, criminal association and mistreatment of a minor.

The USCG says it has seized nearly 970 pounds of cocaine and 550 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated 13.5 million USD in the Caribbean Sea. According to the USCG, the drugs were seized off the coasts of Jamaica, Haiti and Colombia, with one case resulting in the seizure of 970 pounds of cocaine by the cutter Raymond Evans.

The Yacht Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago (YSATT) stated that a 55-foot Beneteau sailboat was approached by a vessel allegedly carrying eight Venezuelan men on 14 April. The yacht refused to stop for the alleged pirates and, in heavy seas, began evasive manoeuvres. This made the vessel extremely hard to board, given the conditions, and allowed them to escape as the pirates abandoned their attack.

However, the attackers on the Venezuelan vessel fired a number of shots at the sailboat, resulting in damage to the yacht. Despite the gunfire, no injuries were reported by those on the sailboat.

The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) have stated that they are investigating the incident. The coast guard will also increase patrols in the waters around Trinidad and Tobago; as well as in the region around the country’s oil and gas platforms north of Trinidad. The TTCG do have a good working relationship with their Venezuelan counterparts; officials have stated that they would be stepping up their communications with the Venezuelan Coast Guard as well as with the Grenadian coast guard.

While incidents have been infrequent, they signal a growing threat presented by the instability in Venezuela. Yachts, fishermen and the country’s oil platforms are all at risk from possible pirate attacks by former fishermen from Venezuela. This is especially true of small sailboats that lack the size or speed to evade possible attacks. Amongst the gas platforms that are most at risk are those located at the Chaconia and Hibiscus gas fields (map above) due to their proximity to Venezuelan waters.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, a US cruise ship, reported to have been the Freewinds, was placed in quarantine by the St Lucian authorities after a case of measles was reported on board. Dr Merlene Fredericks James, the island’s chief medical officer, said there was a confirmed case of measles on board and “thought it prudent that we quarantine the ship”. As a result, no one was allowed to leave the vessel given the risk that one person could spread Measles to the island population. The Freewinds is reported to be owned and operated by the Church of Scientology.

DATE NOTABLE MARITIME INCIDENTS IN AMERICAS
14 April An underway Trinidad & Tobago-flagged yacht was approached by an open small boat with 8 people on board. The yacht managed to escape despite being fired upon. More information above.
14 April Five robbers boarded an anchored bulk carrier using a rope attached with a hook Callao Anchorage, Peru. The duty AB on routine rounds was attacked, threatened and hit by the robbers. The alarm was raised, and the rest of the crew mustered. Upon seeing the alerted crew, the robbers escaped with stolen personal belongings.
19 April A boat with around eight to ten persons was approached a container ship under pilotage and attempted to board via the rigged pilot ladder at around dawn in the Buenaventura Channel, Colombia. Duty lookout noticed the boat and raised the alarm. Crew mustered near the pilot ladder resulting in the boat aborting and moving away. The pilot notified the coast guard and a patrol boat was dispatched to investigate.
25 April Two robbers in a small boat approached and boarded an anchored bulk carrier in Puerto Bolivar Anchorage, Colombia. The alerted crew noticed the robbers and raised the alarm. Hearing the alarm and seeing the crew alertness, the robbers escaped empty handed. The Coast Guard were subsequently informed.
26 April A Duty Officer noticed on the CCTV one unauthorised person on the forecastle and raised the in Puerto La Cruz Anchorage, Venezuela. Hearing the alerted crew, the robber escaped. A security search of the vessel showed ships properties stolen from the forecastle store.
26 April Unnoticed, robbers boarded an anchored bulk carrier and escaped with ship’s stores. The theft was noticed by the duty crew during routine rounds in Callao Anchorage, Peru. Port control were informed.
2 May The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre received a distress call from a family on an anchored pleasure boat indicating that unknown persons had boarded the boat, shot and killed one person and injured the other around 1.9nm ENE of San Ignacio de Tupile, Panama. Two other family members were unharmed. The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) immediately informed the Panamanian Authorities who dispatched a patrol boat to the location to render assistance. IMB PRC continued to liaise with the authorities and the family on the boat until the marine police boat arrived at the location and rendered medical assistance.  According to local media sources, one New Zealand man died during the incident while both his wife and daughter were injured in the attack though they are believed to likely be able to survive.
3 May Two speed boats with five persons in each boat approached a bulk carrier underway around 52nm WNW of Cabo Pasado, Ecuador. Alarm raised and crew mustered. Vessel increased speed, commenced evasive manoeuvres and started spraying the boats with charged fire hoses, resulting in the boats moving away. Crew and vessel were both reported safe.

EUROPE, MEDITERRANEAN & BLACK SEA

The Mediterranean and the wider Europe area has enjoyed a quiet month. However, the escalation in fighting in the Libyan Civil War heightens the risk of an increase in migration as well as the possibility of a deterioration of the port security environment in the country. Elsewhere, numerous rockets were fired into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip on 4 May.

The Ukraine government have been negotiating with NATO representatives to have NATO vessels guarantee the passage of Ukrainian vessels through the Russian controlled Kerch Strait. The secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, Alexander Turchinov, said on 16 April that Kiev is currently in discussions with NATO representatives to have some form of “escort” through the strait.

The negotiations come after last year’s confrontation and seizure of Ukrainian navy vessels that were passing through the Kerch Strait; which is now de facto in Russian territorial waters following the seizure of Crimea by Russia. The ships then defied Russian border guard vessel’s demands to halt, which resulted in the Russian’s firing on the Ukrainian vessels and one ship ramming another; which led to minor injuries among the Ukrainian crewmembers.

The incident resulted in Russia blocking the strait with a tanker, leaving numerous Ukrainian merchant vessels stuck on either side of the strait waiting for clearance. While operations have, to an extent, normalised now; the Ukrainian seamen remain in jail and Russia continues to control the traffic through the strait.

Solace Global Comment: These ongoing discussions between Ukraine and NATO signal that Kiev has a desire to continue its drift towards the west. However, it remains unclear how much support NATO countries will give, and the actual deployment of warships to the area will depend on how individual countries decide to proceed; especially given the risks associated with escorting Ukrainian vessels through what are nominally Russian waters.

In Libya, on 4 April, General Khalifa Belqasim Haftar and the Libyan National Army launched an assault on the city of Tripoli, the capital of Libya. The offensive, which has been code-named “Operation Flood of Dignity”, aims to bring the west of the country under the Tobruk based House of Representatives control.

Last month, the LNA conducted a complex military campaign across Libya’s oil-rich Fezzan region; swiftly capturing two of the country’s largest oil fields – the Sahara and El-Feel. Haftar then decided to capitalise on this success by conducting a blitzkrieg-esque military campaign designed to capture the strategically important town of Gharyan; just under 50 km (30 miles) south of Tripoli. Giving the general a perfect launching pad to potentially win the civil war. However, the advance has since been halted, and the continued fighting risks allowing terrorist factions to regain strength throughout the country, disrupt the country’s fragile oil production network, port security and, potentially, cause a surge in migrations to Europe.

The situation remains volatile at this time; however, the escalation of the conflict has affected the country’s ports. Locations such as Brega, Zuwetina, Benghazi, and Tobruk are unlikely to be impacted by the fighting at this time. The central Es Sider & Ras Lanuf export terminals are, so far, unaffected. However, the two may become targets of a GNA advance in an effort to relieve pressure on Tripoli. Sirte port is currently not operational. Other ports and cities may become affected in the coming days should the fighting dynamic change.

There have also been reports of Haftar using the country’s oil terminals in the oil crescent region as military sites for his forces. In the National Oil Corporation (NOC) said Haftar’s armed groups had stormed Es Sider oil port and captured its airstrip for military uses. They also attempted to seize NOC tugboats. The armed groups stormed Ras Lanuf oil terminal to berth warships and other military vessels, the NOC added.

Libya’s Interior Ministry also allegedly seized an Iranian ship in the Makhtaf area near Misrata port. The vessel is reportedly on the US and European Union’s sanctions list. The Public Prosecutor has ordered the seizure of the vessel until the end of the investigation into the shipment, even though there were no reports of illegal goods on board.

On 29 April, a number of Greenpeace activists boarded the oil rig West Hercules in an attempt to protest oil drilling in the Norwegian Arctic. The four protesters climbed up the rig’s structure, while four others circled the base of the rig in kayaks. Many other protesters remained onshore with banners reading “Ban New Oil” and “People versus Oil”. The activists then departed the rig peacefully as the weather started to turn.

DATE NOTABLE MARITIME INCIDENTS IN EUROPE
N/A There have been no notable incidents impacting the Mediterranean or Europe in the past month.

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