Robbers target ships at Venezuelan ports

Thieves are targeting vessels anchored in ports in Venezuela, North P&I Club and security consultant and analyst Gray Page have warned.

“Maritime Threat Picture” from the insurer and consultant showed that attacks on ships in ports in Venezuela had been growing during the country’s struggles with a collapsing economy and civil unrest.

Vessels at anchor at Puerto José and Puerto La Cruz had been particularly at risk. There were also fears for the safety of crew when ashore. There were at least two attacks in Puerto Jose in October. In one, five robbers armed with knives boarded a tanker by climbing its anchor chain and threatened a crew member before leaving with some unsecured items.

There had also been reports of vessels’ distress calls to shoreside authorities not being answered.

Tankers arriving in Venezuelan ports 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. It was noted that some tankers have had to clean their hulls prior to going on to ports that forbid 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. Vessels operating in the country should maintain strict watches at both berth and anchor, and should expect disruption of port services.