Dryad Maritime Incident Report: Mediterranean, 2nd September

The following analysis was issued by Dryad Maritime on Wednesday 2nd September 2015.

The Hellenic Coastguard detained a vessel on 1 September 2015 for having weapons onboard without the required paperwork. The Bolivian flagged Haddad 1 (IMO: 7413921) had sailed from Iskenderun, Turkey on 29 August and was en route Misurata, Libya according to AIS. The Hellenic Coastguard escorted the vessel to Heraklion for further inspection, which has so far found 500,000 rounds of ammunitions and 5000 “police style” shotguns.

If the vessel is confirmed to be carrying weapons bound for Libya, it will be in contravention of the UN Security Council Resolution that maintains an arms embargo on the country. The stated destination, Misurata, IS strongly connected to the Tripoli based non-recognised government (the General National Congress (GNC)) and is fighting with both the recognised government (House of Representatives (HoR)) forces across the country, as well as Islamic State’s forces in Sirte. The ship’s previous movements could suggest that the weapons were loaded in Turkey or northern Cyprus and were destined for the non-recognised government. The entire incident adds weight to the Libyan HoR’s appeal to the UN to lift the arms embargo in their favour and so support their fight against the GNC, its associated militias and the Islamic State. Of more concern to the shipping industry is that the HoR forces have previously threatened to attack ships approaching Misurata that they believe are supporting the GNC and the Islamist militias based there. They already have a history of attacking similar ships off Benghazi, Sirte and Derna, sometimes without warning. This latest incident may encourage those forces to carry out this unfulfilled threat.

Dryad continues to monitor the ongoing situation in Libya and the Mediterranean, issuing both a weekly Libya port assessment as well as maintaining a relevant section of the world risk map. In both these products, Dryad has assessed the risk to vessels approaching Misurata as MODERATE, based on the previous threat from the HoR. It is still not clear if an attack is imminent, but Dryad now has increased concerns that the HoR forces may wish to carry out their threat due to the latest evidence that the Islamists are being supported by sea, despite their forces being predominantly involved in fighting in Benghazi.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Dryad recommends that any vessels in the Mediterranean and approaching Libya are to proceed with caution. Furthermore, any vessels approaching Misurata itself, do so with extreme caution and be prepared to respond to any VHF calls or warnings from military forces. Vessels wishing to trade at any Libyan ports should send their arrival notices, and await authorisation to visit in accordance with local port regulations. Due to the ongoing volatile nature of the situation in the country, a comprehensive risk assessment should be conducted to ensure the risks of trading at any Libyan port are fully understood.

The above report is part of Dryad’s Incident & Advisory (I&A) reporting stream – a service aimed at building Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and providing timely alerts and analysis of maritime threats. To learn more about receiving these reports, contact: [email protected]

Editor: Please note, the dates and events referred to in this report are accurate of their publication date, 2nd September 2015.