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CSOA FRR Report: Fatal Piracy Incident Off Venezuela
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CSOA FRR Report: Fatal Piracy Incident Off Venezuela

CSOA FRR Report: Fatal Piracy Incident Off Venezuela

© 2020 CSO ALLIANCE LTD   |   ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

THIS IS A FIRST RESPONSE REPORT TO INFORM OUR MEMBERS/SUBSCRIBERS OF A SERIOUS INCIDENT.  THE IS AN EVOLVING SITUATION THUS THE INFORMATION AND ANALYSIS CONTAINED HEREIN MAY BE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
 
EVENT SUMMARY
A tanker was attacked and boarded by six armed assailants who remain at large. During the incident the Master was killed, one CM is missing, and at least one other is injured. 

DATE/TIME
Monday, February 24 2020, 01:00 LT

LOCATION
Vessel anchored off Borracha Island, Venezuela (north of Puerto La Cruz)
 
DETAILS
  • According to local media, the oil products tanker SAN RAMON (SEABOARD I; IMO #7824572) was attacked by six armed persons at approx. 01:00 LT on February 24 
  • The Master (a Colombian national) was shot in the head and killed after attempting to resist the attack
  • One CM is missing after jumping overboard
  • One other CM is injured (extent of injuries unreported at this time)
  • Details of articles taken not yet known
  • The six assailants escaped following their attack
  • The SAN RAMON has been suspected of involvement in oil smuggling and has been anchored for the last seven months under court order. She was renamed and reflagged in October 2019

ANALYSIS
The enduring political crisis in Venezuela in a post Chavez era has had a devastating impact on Venezuela’s stability.  The current government under president Nicolas Maduro retains the loyalty of the military and has allegedly employed drastic measures to remain in power, placing opposition members under the leadership of Juan Guaido in prison or exile, while the United Nations has accused  the government of mistreating its citizens in order to remain in power.  Tensions were further fuelled after Guaido declared himself acting president in Jan 2019 with other 50 countries recognising him as such.  However Guaido himself is now coming under pressure from other dissidents that are challenging his position as leader of the National Assembly and main opposition to the Government.
 
Against this backdrop, the country has suffered over a period of years from hyperinflation, food, medical and energy shortages as well as the wide effects from US imposed sanctions.  These sanctions coupled with a lack of investment in infrastructure has severely damaged Venezuela’s oil interests and consequently the Country’s economy. The increasingly desperate situation has led to a mass migration of almost 5 million people – the largest forced displacement of people since World War II.  As a result, the country has descended into lawlessness and has an exponentially increasing murder rate.  
 
Increased criminality has inevitably extended into the maritime domain. Over recent years there has been a drastic increase in piracy (reported incidents have doubled), sanction busting smuggling (with larger vessels deactivating AIS in attempts to avoid detection), armed robbery at sea and other forms of maritime crime.  With energy shortages focus has inevitably fallen on oil and gas targets both afloat and ashore while acts of piracy in the region are increasingly unpredictable with assailants launching attacks from a range of vessels including small RHIBS through to luxury yachts.  The southern Caribbean region has been particularly impacted with smuggling routes established out of southern Caribbean islands.  Much of this increased maritime activity is the result of the demise of Venezuela’s fishing industry which has driven many fishermen into  illegal activity such as narcotics and other illegal smuggling as well as  armed robbery at sea. While the SAN RAMON incident is particularly noteworthy due to the reported murder of the vessel's master this is by no means. the first attack on an oil tanker: The previous year has seen a range of attempted or actual attacks with many reported in or near the Puerto La Cruz ad Jose Terminal Anchorages (for example:  March 21, March 27, and April 26.). 

Unless sanctions are lifted or there is a radical shift in the overall geo-political climate, the situation is expected to continue to deteriorate with the consequent increased threat to maritime interests in the region.

© 2020 CSO ALLIANCE LTD   |   ALL RIGHTS RESERVED