Nigerian Pirates Kidnap Crew of German-Owned Freighter   1 comment

pirFile image

By MarEx 

On Tuesday, the Russian embassy in Nigeria confirmed that pirates have kidnapped eight seafarers from the geared cargo vessel BBC Caribbean. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the attack occurred on February 5 in Nigerian waters, and that seven Russian nationals and one Ukrainian were taken hostage.

The Caribbean is a 6,000 dwt freighter operated by Briese Schiffahrt, a German heavy lift firm. Her AIS signal was last received by a shore station on Saturday, and it showed her off the island of Bioko, Equatorial Guinea. She had just departed Cameroon and was bound for Las Palmas.

Pavel Fedulov, the director of a Briese Shiffart office in St. Petersburg, told Russian outlet RBC that “the armed pirates approached [the vessel] in a boat, captured the crew and left on the boat at the direction of the Nigerian shores.”

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “consuls in Hamburg and Nigeria are taking measures for the release of the captured citizen of Ukraine.” A consul official told Arab News that the kidnappers have not yet made any demands, and the location of the seafarers is not known.

The pirate attack was far from the only one in the Gulf of Guinea in recent days. The Nigerian Navy reported Wednesday that it had defended the tankers Gaz Providence and Rio Spirit from hijacking attempts this week – including two attacks on the Spirit.

Posted February 11, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Flashlight “Bomb” Prompts Ferry Evacuation   1 comment

skaneFile image courtesy Stena

By MarEx 

On Thursday, Stena Line evacuated the ropax ferry Skåne after a cleaning crew found a suspected explosive device on board.

The Skåne was just about to depart Trelleborg when a suspicious-looking small red box was found in one of the vessel’s cabins; the unknown object reportedly had cables attached to it. The captain called the police, and the crew sounded the alarm and began to offload passengers.

The ferry was due to depart at 2200 hours. The bomb squad finished evaluating the suspected device at 0040 hours Friday, and determined that it was harmless: The unidentified object was in fact a solar-powered flashlight.

“The police say that we did the right to call them,” said Stena Line spokesman Jesper Waltersson, speaking to Ystads Allehanda. “For us, safety is the most important.”

About 80 passengers were taken to the ferry terminal, some leaving their cars aboard. The crew began to reload the ship toward 0100 and expected a departure towards 0200. Passengers were offered a buffet meal when they returned on board.

Bomb scares and threats are not entirely unusual for ferry operators like Stena. Last year, the Corsica ferry at Marseille had to be evacuated after passengers reported that they had heard an explosion on board. Similarly, cross-Channel ferry operations out of Portsmouth Harbour had to be suspended briefly in November when a piece of unexploded ordnance from WWII was found on the seabed.

The abundance of caution operators use when confronting these risks is borne out of experience, as not all bomb scares turn out to be false alarms: the Superferry 14 bombing in 2004 was the world’s deadliest terrorist attack at sea, resulting in the death of 116 people.

Posted February 6, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Philippines Continues to be Piracy Hotspot   1 comment

piracyfile photo

By MarEx 

A surge in piracy to the west of the Philippines is forcing shipowners to divert vessels through other waters, increasing costs and extending the time it takes to transport goods such as Australian iron ore to key Asian destinations, reports news agency Reuters.

Shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon shows several large vessels carrying iron ore from Australia to northern Asia which used to take the route through the Sulu Sea now sailing east of the Philippines, through the open Pacific Ocean.

For the period of January 3 – 9, three attempted piracy incidents were reported to the Asian regional piracy center ReCAAP ISC, two of them in Philippine waters.

There have been 16 attacks since last March on ships in the Sulu and Celebes Seas, through which about $40 billion worth of cargo passes each year, according to ReCAAP. Currently, over a dozen crew members are being held hostage by Filipino Abu Sayyaf militants, all from ships sailing through the Sulu and Celebes seas.

The Philippine Navy announced last week that it will send 30 more boats and the best people to help fight the Abu Sayyaf.

ReCAAP ISC’s 2016 annual report highlights serious concern about incidents involving the abduction of crew from ships while underway in the Sulu-Celebes Sea and waters off eastern Sabah which accounted for 10 of 13 Category 1 incidents.

10 of the Category 1 incidents involved the abduction of crew from tug boats, namely Brahma 12 (March 26), Massive 6 (April 1), Henry (April 15), Charles 00 (June 22) and Serudong 3 (July 18). Other incidents involved the general cargo ship Dong Bang Giant No. 2 (October 20); bulk carrier Royal 16 (November 11) and fishing boats and trawlers.

However, the report also states that overall there was a significant improvement in the situation of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia in 2016 compared to the past four years (2012-2015). The total number of incidents reported in 2016 has decreased by 58 percent compared to 2015, with 85 incidents reported in 2016 compared to 203 in 2015.

The 2016 annual report is available here.

Posted January 28, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Abu Sayyaf Releases Two Seafarers   1 comment

abuFile image

By MarEx 

Captain Park Chul Hong, the master of the heavy lift ship Dongbang Giant II, returned to South Korea on Sunday after three months’ captivity as a hostage of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist organization.

On his arrival in Incheon, South Korea, Park was taken to a hospital for a full evaluation. “They have been very stressed out. They were moved from one place to another, sometimes sleeping in forests, different houses, eating just dried fish and drinking water from brooks,” said Jesus Dureza, a senior aide to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, speaking to AFP.

Abu Sayyaf fighters boarded the Giant in October and kidnapped Park and one member of his crew, Philippine national Glenn Alindajao. The men were held on the island of Jolo in Sulu province until Saturday, when Abu Sayyaf handed them off to government-aligned militants of the Moro National Liberation Front.

The shipowner, the MNLF, the Korean foreign ministry and the Philippine government supported efforts to gain the seafarers’ release. They did not confirm whether a ransom was paid, but in the past, Abu Sayyaf has insisted on payment in return for the freedom of its captives – and has been known to execute hostages when the ransom is too slow to arrive.

Dureza told media that Abu Sayyaf is still holding at least another 27 hostages, many of them seafarers. Abu Sayyaf-aligned militants have carried out an intensive campaign of piracy over the past year, beginning with a series of attacks on tugs and trawlers off Sabah, Malaysia, and in recent months, its fighters have become a threat to oceangoing merchant vessels as well. Security organizations like the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre advise ships to reroute around the affected area if possible.

On Saturday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte exhorted the nation’s armed forces to destroy Abu Sayyaf militants, even if it meant accidentally killing their captives. “They say ‘hostages.’ Sorry, collateral damage,” he said at a meeting in Davao City. “If there are kidnappers and they’re trying to escape, bomb them all.” For seafarers and citizens, his advice was simple: “So, really, don’t allow yourselves to be kidnapped,” he said.

Posted January 26, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS



Posted January 26, 2017 by rrts in -TRAINING

Piracy Agreement to Cover Other Illicit Activity   1 comment


By MarEx 

The Djibouti Code of Conduct, an international agreement that has been instrumental in repressing piracy and armed robbery against ships in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, has seen its scope significantly broadened to cover other illicit maritime activities, including human trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

A high-level meeting of signatories held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (January 10 to 12) adopted a revised Code of Conduct, which will be known as the Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017.

The participatory States agreed to work together, with support from the IMO and other stakeholders, to build national and regional capacity to address wider maritime security issues, as a basis for sustainable development of the maritime sector.

The Jeddah Amendment recognizes the important role of the “blue economy” including shipping, seafaring, fisheries and tourism in supporting sustainable economic growth, food security, employment, prosperity and stability. But it expresses deep concern about crimes of piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activity, including fisheries crime, in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.

The amendment calls for action including information sharing; interdicting ships and/or aircraft suspected of engaging in such crimes; ensuring that any persons committing or intending to commit such illicit activity are apprehended and prosecuted and facilitating proper care, treatment, and repatriation for seafarers, fishermen, other shipboard personnel and passengers involved as victims.

The transnational organized crime referred to in the Code includes arms trafficking; trafficking in narcotics and psychotropic substances; illegal trade in wildlife; crude oil theft; human trafficking and smuggling and illegal dumping of toxic waste.

A key article of the Code includes the intention of participants to develop and implement, as necessary, a national strategy for the development of the maritime sector and a sustainable “blue economy” that generates revenue, employment and stability. They also pledge to develop national maritime security policies and national legislation to ensure safe and secure operation of port facilities as well as effective protection of the marine environment and sustainable management of marine living resources.

Under new measures relating to the national organization of maritime security, participants commit to establishing multi-agency, multidisciplinary national maritime security and facilitation committees, with similar arrangements at port level, to develop action plans and to implement effective security procedures.

A further pledge covers the intention of participants to liaise and co-operate with States (which could include the flag State, State of suspected origin of the perpetrators, the State of nationality of persons on board the ship and the State of ownership of cargo and other stakeholders) and to coordinate activities with each other to facilitate rescue, interdiction, investigation, and prosecution.

Jeddah meeting

The Jeddah Meeting was attended by high-level representatives from 17 Djibouti code of Conduct signatory States, France (Reunion) and four observer States, as well as observers from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); the European Union; the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and the East African Standby Force.

The meeting was opened by Vice Admiral Awwad Eid Al-Aradi Al-Balawi, the Head of the Border Guard of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Mr. Chris Trelawny, the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the Organization. The Meeting was chaired by Vice Admiral Awwad Eid Al-Aradi Al-Balawi, the Head of the Border Guard of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Revised Code of Conduct was adopted by all 18 States, who also adopted resolutions covering technical co-operation and assistance; enhancing training in the region; and expressions of appreciation to the host country, Saudi Arabia.

The Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017 was signed on January 12 by 12 of the 17 participating States eligible to sign: Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Jordan, Madagascar, Maldives, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen.

The Djibouti Code of Conduct 

The Djibouti Code of Conduct was adopted under IMO auspices in 2009. Training and other capacity-building activities implemented under the auspices of the Djibouti Code of Conduct have been credited with contributing to the reduction of piracy in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, alongside the efforts of merchant ships to implement IMO guidance and best management practices, naval forces continuing to deter and disrupt pirate activities and States continuing to prosecute suspected pirates and increasing their maritime law-enforcement capabilities.

Posted January 26, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Eight Fishermen Killed by Pirates Off Mindanao   Leave a comment


By MarEx 

On Monday night, eight fishermen were shot and killed by pirates in the vicinity of Siromon Island, near Zamboanga City.

According to survivors, armed men in speedboats boarded the fishing boat and ordered the crew to move towards the bow. The attackers opened fire, killing eight and forcing five others into the water. Police photos (not suitable for reproduction) show that the deceased were bound together in a manner indicating execution.

Zamboanga, on the southwestern tip of Mindanao, is in an area plagued by pirate attacks by the Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf. The violence of Monday’s attack, however, differs from recent Abu Sayyaf incidents, which have uniformly involved the kidnapping of crewmembers for ransom. Police suspect extortion or an inter-group rivalry as the motive behind Monday night’s assault.

“We consider this a piracy attack. If these were Islamist militants, they would have been taken captive and held for ransom,” said Coast guard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo, speaking to Reuters.

Piracy falls worldwide, but kidnappings rise

Piracy reporting center IMB released its annual report for 2016 on Tuesday, and the top-line news for mariners is good: the number of reported pirate attacks last year fell to 191, the lowest level in almost 20 years. However, the growing trend towards kidnapping is worrisome, and the number of abductions was the highest in a decade. In total, 151 crew were taken hostage aboard and 62 were kidnapped from their vessels last year, up from only 19 kidnappings in 2015. Most of this year’s surge in abductions is attributable to the targeting of crew in the Gulf of Guinea and to Abu Sayyaf-related attacks in the Sulu Sea.

If Manila succeeds in its

Posted January 25, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS