Saudi Arabian ports within range of Yemen, and the Gulf of Guinea are the hot spots for attacks on tankers
The latest incident of several linked to the ongoing war in Yemen took place on 25 November 2020 when TMS Tankers-managed Agrari was holed above the waterline while in a Saudi Arabian port.
The damage is believed to have been caused by a floating improvised explosive device (IED) sea mine. It is known that Houthi forces in Yemen have laid IED sea mines in the region, with Saudi Arabian forces reporting interception and destruction of the devices on a daily basis.
“Agrari was struck about a metre above the waterline and suffered a breach,” TMS Tankers said in a statement. “It is confirmed the crew are safe and there are no injuries. No pollution has been reported. The vessel is in ballast condition and stable,” the company said.
No group has claimed responsibility but Saudi Arabian state media pointed the finger at forces in Yemen opposed to Saudi Arabia’s intervention in the conflict.
The vessel is believed to have finished discharging at the al-Shuqaiq Steam Power Plant in the Red Sea north of the Yemeni border when the incident took place.
The longer the Yemen conflict lasts, the risk of a serious pollution incident involving the abandoned FSO Safer, increases.
The other hot spot for incidents against tankers and commercial vessels in general is the Gulf of Guinea off West Africa.
Maritime security provider, Dryad Global, reports 2006-built, 36,800-dwt MR1 product tanker Agisilaos was boarded by an unknown number of persons while underway resulting in the kidnap of four crew.
The vessel is understood to have a crew of 23 including Russian, Romanian, and Filipino nationals. The vessel is now reported safe. Local authorities have been notified.
According to Dryad Global, this is the 24th confirmed kidnapping incident in the waters of the Gulf of Guinea within 2020, with 122 crew kidnapped from vessels.
Tanker operators are urged to follow best practice when in the Gulf of Guinea, as detailed in Best Management Practices to Enhance Maritime Security for Vessels & Mariners Operating Off the Coast of West Africa including the Gulf of Guinea (BMP WA), which is free to download here.
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