Abu Sayyaf Kidnaps Captain, Chief Engineer from Ro/Ro   1 comment

roroFile image courtesy Super Shuttle RoRo

By MarEx 

On Thursday afternoon, two licensed mariners were abducted from the vehicle carrier Super Shuttle Roro 9 in the vicinity of General Santos City, Mindanao. Philippine authorities said that pirates in three speedboats approached the vessel, boarded it, and made off with the captives. The Philippine military suspects the involvement of terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, which has carried out a string of maritime kidnappings over the past year.

“Two Filipino crew, the ship’s captain and chief engineer, were taken captive,” said AFP Lieutenant-Commander Alvin Dagalea, speaking to local media. “The reports are still sketchy, but we have reasons to believe the Abu Sayyaf are behind the attack.”

The head of Philippine Coast Guard Station Zamboanga, Alvin Dagalea, told Rappler that the abductees were captain Aurelio Agacac and chief engineer Laurencio Tiro. The rest of the crew was left on board.

Earlier that day, a team of Philippine sailors and marines rescued two Malaysian captives from Abu Sayyaf near Pata Island, in the Sulu archipelago. The two men were part of the crew of a tugboat seized by Abu Sayyaf off of Sabah last July. Major General Carlito Galvez Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command, told ABS CBN that the men were in poor health and appeared weak.

Handout image courtesy Westmincom (via Rappler)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines identified the rescued crewmembers as Abdurahim Bin Sumas, 62, and Tayudin Anjut, 45. The men were taken to a hospital for evaluation.

The Philippine military has mounted an all-out offensive against the terrorist group in Sulu and Basilan, and it claims that it is near to bringing Abu Sayyaf’s 26-year reign of terror to a close. Despite the ongoing campaign, the group is still believed to be holding nearly thirty hostages, most of them seafarers.

Posted March 25, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Piratas somalíes capturan un petrolero en su primer secuestro de un buque comercial desde 2012   Leave a comment

El barco ha sido trasladado a la región de Puntlandia y ya hay una operación para localizarlo.

Las autoridades de Somalia han informado este martes de que un grupo de piratas somalíes ha secuestrado el buque petrolero Aris 13, que se desplazaba de Yibuti a Mogadiscio, la capital del país, en lo que supone el primer secuestro de una embarcación comercial en la zona desde 2012. La nave fue asaltada por ocho hombres armados, que la condujeron después hasta la costa en el océano Índico de la región de Puntlandia, informa Reuters.

El buque, que realizó una llamada de auxilio el lunes, apagó posteriormente su sistema de rastreo y alteró su recorrido para dirigirse a la localidad portuaria somalí de Alula, según ha indicado John Steed, miembro del programa de asistencia Ocean’s Beyond Piracy.

“Los piratas han secuestrado el petrolero y lo han trasladado a una zona cercana a Alula”, ha señalado el comisionado de distrito de Alula, Mohamud Ahmed Eynab. Los piratas, por su parte, han confirmado que se encontraban a la espera de la embarcación.

Según Steed, en el barco se encontraban ocho personas cuando se produjo el secuestro. “El buque alertó ayer [lunes] por la tarde de que estaba siendo perseguido por dos esquifes. Después desapareció”, ha aseverado.

La Fuerza Naval de la Unión Europea (EU NAVFOR) ha sobrevolado la zona en un intento por hallar la embarcación. El buque Aris 13 pertenece a la empresa panameña Armi Shipping y es gestionado por Aurora Ship Management, en Emiratos Árabes Unidos.

Hace cinco años, los piratas somalíes llevaron a cabo 237 ataques en las costas de Somalia, según ha afirmado la Oficina Marítima Internacional. La seguridad para los barcos en esta parte del océano Índico ha mejorado sustancialmente en los últimos años, después de que la piratería frente a las costas somalíes alcanzó su pico entre 2010 y 2012.

Uno de los factores de este descenso del número de secuestros es la Operación Atalanta, que fue puesta en marcha en 2008 bajo la Política de Defensa y Seguridad Común de la Unión Europea. En sus más de 8 años de vida, los marinos europeos que participan en la Operación Atalanta han detenido y llevado a los tribunales a más de 150 piratas, además de abortar numerosos secuestros y reducir significativamente los asaltos a barcos en la región.

internacional.elpais.com

Posted March 14, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

One Killed, Seven Abducted in Sulu Sea Pirate Attack   1 comment

fileFile image (inset image courtesy of ReCAAP)

By MarEx 

On Sunday evening, pirates attached the frieghter Giang Hai near Tawi-Tawi, Philippines, killing one seafarer and kidnapping seven.

According to the Vietnam Coast Guard, the abductees included the master, chief mate, third mate, second engineer and one oiler. Philippine coast guard and military forces responded to the scene and rescued the Giang Hai’s remaining 17 crewmembers, and the Philippine armed forces pursued the attackers.

The Vietnamese-flagged geared bulker Giang Hai is operated by a Da Nang-based shipping firm. AIS data shows that she was under way from Makassar, Indonesia to Iloilo, Philippines at the time of the attack. The Giang Hai is now at Taganak anchorage area, Tawi Tawi, where Philippine law enforcement officials are examining the vessel.

The ReCAAP piracy reporting center said that the pirates destroyed navigation and communication equipment before escaping. ReCAAP noted that this is the second boarding and abduction in the region so far this year. The waters around Tawi-Tawi are notorious for pirate attacks and kidnappings perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), a terrorist organization based out of Sulu and Basilan. In November, ReCAAP advised slower-moving merchant vessels to avoid the region altogether if possible.

Abu Sayyaf is believed to be holding over two dozen hostages, most of them merchant mariners; it has released eleven captives since last June, and analysts suggest that ransoms were likely paid to secure their release. The Philippine government does not generally comment on ransoms, but recent payments may represent a significant sum: as a point of reference, group is believed to have taken in $7 million from kidnapping the first half of 2016 alone. The government discourages ransoms on the grounds that the money fuels ASG’s arms purchases and recruitment activities.

Abu Sayyaf routinely threatens to kill hostages if it does not receive payment, and it often follows through. Last year, ASG fighters beheaded three captives – John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, both Canadian nationals, and Philippine citizen Patrick Almodovar. Last week, ASG threatened to behead German national Jurgen Kantner unless the German government pays $100,000 to secure his release.

Posted March 10, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

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