Weekly Shipping Risks Report Week 5
Week 5 Jan 26 – Feb 01
By Voytenko Mikhail
Indonesian tanker hijacked, 15 crew forced to lifeboat
Indonesian tanker was hijacked by pirates on Jan 30 around midday off Bitung, northern Sulawesi, Indonesia, Celebes sea, by 8 armed pirates. 14 or 15 crew were lowered to lifeboat and left behind, tanker sailed away. All were found several hours later by a fishing vessel, and rescued. Tanker is missing, search under way. Reportedly tanker is loaded with 1100 tons of fuel. The news, though in abundance, are contradicting, desultory and incomplete. Some Indonesian media say vessel was hijacked on Jan 25, some say on Jan 30. Tanker’s name is spelled differently, most often mentioned is mt Berkat Rehobot, second popular is mt Rehobot, another version is mt Rehobooth, so on and so forth. Some mention 700 gt, some 827 gt. To identify tanker is impossible, maybe later Indonesia media will come up with correct details, including tanker’s name. Indonesian Navy and police are searching for the tanker, Philippines authorities asked to assist.
Product tanker Sun Birdie hijack and release, South China Sea
On 29 Jan the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) received information from the owner of chemical tanker Sun Birdie that the vessel cannot be contacted since 28 Jan at or about 2200 hrs (local time). The last known position of the tanker was at approximately 1 nm south of Tanjung Ayam, Malaysia, Singapore Strait. The owner suspected that the chemical tanker may have possibly been hijacked. Sun Birdie is laden with 700 metric tons of Marine Fuel Oil (MFO) and has a total of 11 crew onboard (comprising eight Myanmar nationals and three Indonesians).
The MMEA and Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) had reportedly deployed vessels to search for Sun Birdie.
On 29 Jan at or about 2253 hrs, the MMEA successfully recovered Sun Birdie at approximately 17.63 nm northeast of Tanjung Penawar, Malaysia. The MMEA detained the ship’s crew and seven perpetrators found onboard Sun Birdie. The MMEA brought the vessel to Penggerang for further investigation. Another two perpetrators jumped overboard and fled. They were picked up by a passing ship, Challenger Premier at approximately 12.73 nm east of Tanjung Penawar.
Product tanker Sun Birdie, IMO 9073256, dwt 1138, built 1993, flag Malaysia, manager TEGUH SAMUDERA SDN BHD.
29.01.2015: 0050 LT: Posn: 06:01.2S – 106:55.1E, Tanjung Priok Outer Roads, Jakarta, Indonesia.
Two deck watchmen on routine rounds onboard an anchored bulk carrier noticed two robbers on the forecastle deck. They immediately informed the OOW who raised the alarm and crew mustered. Seeing the crew alertness, the robbers escaped with their accomplices in their boat. The crew members carried out a thorough search. Nothing stolen. The incident was reported to Port Control via VHF channel 12.
28.01.2015: 0600 LT: Posn: 01:02.5N - 103:39.0E, Around 5.9nm South of Pulau Nipah, Indonesia.
Five robbers boarded a bulk carrier underway, stole ship’s engine spares and escaped. Alarm raised and search initiated. All crew safe.
Libyan Ports Situation
30 January, 2015
The following ports are currently closed due to strike action or armed clashes:
- Ras Lanuf (Rasco)
- Ras Lanuf 'Harouge'
- Es Sider
Yemen security situation
Following a recent upsurge in violence, leading to a take over of the capitol Sanaa by Houti tribal militia, the President of Yemen resigned his post. This has left Yemen in a state of political vacuum and the risk of further internal conflict is significant.
Risk management advice
Shore leaves are highly unadvisable. Before making any fixture to go to Yemen in the future, a careful risk assessment should be carried out. The same should be done for any vessel that is heading towards this country at this time.
Weekly Risk Assessment
Measuring risk security level by 3-level scale, Second Level may be applied. Hotspots remain the same, Gulf of Guinea and South East Asia, without significant upsurges in piracy activity, at least basing on available data. Two tankers were hijacked in South East Asia during the week, both being engaged in local trade, meaning it doesn’t concern international shipping. One disturbing case is a failed attempt to rob the bulk carrier under way in Singapore Strait, but not much can be figured out from that case, due to the lack of most important information – details of the attacked vessel. Was she big, was she transiting or trading locally?
Middle East risks are restricted to waters and ports of turbulent countries like Libya and Yemen, the best way to assess risks involved with available fixtures is consulting those who know the situation, especially fellow shipowners, whose vessels visited the countries in question recently.
Again, nothing definite to advise on Somalia piracy risk. Personally I think, that the risk is minimal, not on a level requesting private guards. But maybe that’s because I am not a shipowner, and don’t have to worry about the vessels costing dozens of millions of dollars.
There’s a factor which may lead to a raise in piracy activities in certain countries, and that’s the oil price. The plummeting oil price is badly affecting such countries, as Nigeria and Venezuela, bad enough even in better times, if talking about piracy and violence. Judging from my experience as a Russian citizen, I may say, that the abundant oil dollars were finding their way from oligarchs, from Mr. Putin and a bunch of his very dear (to Russian budget, mostly) friends, down to commons, keeping people more or less well-off. Things are rapidly changing now, with average income and living standards going down. One may compare photos of Nigerian and Somalian pirates to understand the difference between African nation poor in its natural resources, and African nation rolling in oil cash. Nigerian pirates are seemingly well-fed rough-necks, while their Somalian counterparts are strikingly undernourished. It means, that oil money, with all corruption and inequality, still benefit lower classes. It may not be so any more. The looming lack of money may, and I’m sure, will, lead to piracy upsurge, at least in Nigeria.