Robbers target ships at Venezuelan ports
Robbers are targeting vessels anchored in ports in Venezuela, marine liability insurer North P&I Club and security consultant and analyst Gray Page have said.
According to the organisations’ Maritime Threat Picture, attacks on ships in ports in the South American country have been growing as the nation struggles with a deteriorating economy and civil unrest.
Vessels at anchor have been particularly targeted by robbers at Puerto José and Puerto La Cruz, and fears also exist for the safety of crew when ashore.
Puerto Jose saw at least two attacks in October — in one, five robbers, who were armed with knives, boarded a tanker by climbing its anchor chain and threatened a crew member before leaving with some unsecured items.
According to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, in the first nine months of this year, at least eight vessels in the two locations had been targeted by robbers, with the attackers being armed in 50% of the incidents.
In a reflection of the worsening security situation, there have been reports of vessels’ distress calls to shoreside authorities not being answered.
Additionally, tankers arriving in the country have been facing delays because of poor maintenance and rusting pipelines at the nation’s oil terminals, with oil leaks at the terminals an increasing issue — some tankers have had to clean their hulls prior to going on to ports prohibiting oil-stained vessels.
Gray Page and North P&I Club said that ships calling at ports and oil terminals in Venezuela should be ready for a higher risk level, as well as for delays.
Given issues for the South American nation, routine loadings and port management (including security services) are under strain, and vessels operating in the country should maintain strict watches at both berth and anchor and anticipate port services disruption.
The organisations also noted that piracy attacks in the region have additionally been increasing, but Venezuelan-based pirates have generally kept to targeting inshore fishing vessels.
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