Archive for December 2013


Posted in Headline NewsWhite Papers


(White House) The National Strategy for Maritime Security

Posted December 31, 2013 by rrts in -NEWS

SOMALIA: We urge SFG to do more for our youth in order to prevent joining Piracy   Leave a comment

Somali  Piracy

Somali PiracyWhile speaking at a town hall meeting convened by Somali Anti-Piracy Information Centre (SAPIC). The SAPIC Baidoa Liaison Officer outlined that piracy is the key problem in Somali society. Saying that if piracy exist in coastal communities of Somalia, piracy activities in other forms takes place such as hostage taking and road blocks.

Sh. Miiris Mohamed, religious leader emphasized on piracy and Islam by indicating that Islam is against piracy and there are severe for committing piracy crimes. Sh. Miiris indicated that hostage taking and robbery are similar to piracy and Islam is against that. Sh. Miiris further outlined that parents have a huge responsibility to advise the youth against piracy.

Nuur Shariif, the chairman of Bay & Bakool Youth Association outlined that many youth have no jobs, and it seems that the youth have become the only tool to commit crimes, such as piracy and road blocks. “we need to educate our youth, we need to create jobs, train our youth so that they don’t join criminal gangs which create insecurity in our community”, Nuur Shariif said.

Traditional leader, Ahmed Haji Hassan indicated that all representatives of the society have a great responsibility to advocate against piracy although the key responsibility lays with parents .

Hodan Mohamed Hassan, the representative of women lastly indicated that piracy activities have effected women groups in that many young ladies have been lured to marry members of piracy, and later introduced to drugs.

“We hope that the Somali Federal Government and the regional administration jointly offer youth alternative jobs so that they stop joining criminal groups”

The meeting was attended by more than 70 participants including women, youth, religious and traditional leaders.

SAPIC is supported by United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM)

Get updates from SAPIC:
Twitter @SAPICSomalia

Posted December 31, 2013 by rrts in -NEWS

WA piracy will remain a headache for ship owners in 2014; AIG offers special insurance package to deal with hijackings   Leave a comment

Nigeria will remain a serious piracy hot-spot in 2014, as the country still resists the allowing of non-Nigerian armed guards on board vessels plying its waters. This according to Mr.Alex Kemp, Managing Director with NYA International, a specialist crisis prevention and response consultancy, who spoke with Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide. As such, one of the world’s leading insurance groups, American International Group Inc. (AIG) is tailoring its offerings to provide a full solution package to handle piracy incidents.
The company recently presented in a special event in Athens, its offering, dubbed Maritime Kidnap & Ransom (K&R), a piracy insurance programme for the maritime market. The programme becomes active once there’s been a piracy hijacing. The insurance company has partnered with NYA International to provide with advice and support in hostage and ransom negotiations, coverage for the ransom, legal liability and a series of other coverages, related with costs during a piracy hostage situation.
Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide has interviewed both Mr. Jon Gregory, Head of Special Risk, Global Financial Lines with AIG, as well as Mr. Alex Kemp, Managing Director with NYA International.

Lately, Somalia has taken a back stage when it comes to making Piracy headlines. Instead, we’ve seen the emergence of other piracy “hot-spots” like Guinea and West Africa in general. Why has this occurred?

(Alex Kemp) Somali piracy is currently being disrupted by a multitude of factors, including increased use of armed guards, international coalition naval activity and the application of BMP4 measures. However, pirates continue to conduct probing operations. Pirates seem to understand they cannot defeat the PMSCs, but are regularly scoping out vessels to assess their levels of security and vigilance. Piracy is unlikely to return to 2009 levels in the short to medium term, however, it is highly conceivable that an unguarded vessel could be taken; in this scenario a significant vessel would be held for a protracted period of time and be subject to a high ransom demand.

The situation in West Africa is very different – acts of piracy are conducted by trained, experienced and well-armed militants. This is nothing new however, it has been ongoing for many years, mostly in the form of bulk cargo attacks and bunker (extended duration cargo) theft and occasionally a crew kidnap – 2013 has seen a significant rise in targeted crew kidnappings. Generally speaking, they start as a piracy incident and end in a land based K&R scenario (7 crew were taken in 2012 compared to over 35 in the last 12 months).

Which will be the prevailing trend in maritime piracy incidents moving forward in 2014? Which areas will continue to cause the most problems?

(AK) Continued counter-piracy operations from the international community and continued efforts to stabilize Somalia bodes well. However there is a risk of complacency and/or cost cutting measure amongst elements of the shipping community, and it is possible that another hijack will occur at some point.

Nigeria will continue to resist the use of foreign (i.e. non-Nigerian armed guards) making safeguarding vessels in its waters difficult.  If the Islamist threat in the country continues/increases then international (US) pressure will become overwhelming for Nigeria. If not then piracy attacks will continue – particularly the targeting of high profile crew members for kidnap and ransom.

Still, the general trend is towards a decline of maritime hijackings? Why has this occurred and do you believe this will continue to be the case in 2014 as well?

(AK) In terms of trends: In East Africa, yes this trend is likely to continue, though it is not unlikely that a success attack will happen again at some point. Activity in West Africa is unlikely to decline in the foreseeable future.

Do you believe that hired guards are the answer to the problem, at least for the time being? After all, they’ve proven to be rather effective, essentially negating the risk of a hijacking, since until now no vessel with hired guards has been successfully hijacked.

(AK) The use of armed guards, alongside other measures, has proved to be extremely effective in East Africa. However the same solution is not an option in West Africa, where the use of overseas armed guard teams is not permitted.

What immediate actions should ship owners undertake in case of a hijacking?

(AK) There are many considerations that the owner must take into account in the immediate aftermath of an incident, which are too numerous to list here. Having internal crisis management plans that have been rehearsed in advance of an incident taking place, not only make the organization more capable and resilient in the handling of an incident, but often help the organization mitigate against such an incident in the first instance through enhanced awareness of the challenges faced.

A lot of times, there’s confusion regarding a potential incident, which various contradicting reports surfacing. Most of this is caused by the lack of official releases from the ship owner’s part? Is this something which should be widely adopted, or do we have cases when even the owner isn’t quite aware of what’s been going on with a particular vessel?

(AK) At the outset of any crisis the situation is often fluid with many conflicting reports/accounts of what has occurred.  It is important that the owner/operator only deals with facts and does not speculate on what may/may not have occurred.

Who is responsible for delivering the ransom?

(AK) The ship owner or operator is ultimately responsible for the delivery of the ransom, although it is strongly recommended that the owner seek advice from an experienced crisis response consultancy in the planning and coordination of this highly complex high-risk operation – hopefully the ship owner/operator will have engaged such a consultancy from the outset of the incident.  It is also strongly recommended that an international marine law firmwith experience in these matters is engaged early in proceedings and that the services of an organization specialized in this delivery of ransom be sought.

In terms of piracy-related products, what does AIG offer to the maritime industry?

(Jon Gregory) AIG provides a full solution package, offering the expertise of NYA International to provide the client with advice and support during negotiations, coverage for the Ransom, the loss of Ransom in transit, legal liability, and other expenses including but not limited to crew salaries, the costs of maritime lawyers, personal accident, public relations, rest and rehabilitation, bunkering and port costs. We are also happy to extend coverage to insure the loss of hire as well.

Is the cost of this insurance policy higher or lower than hiring armed guards?

(JG) Five years ago the costs were relatively similar, but nowadays insurance for Kidnap and Ransom is significantly lower making it a very economic purchase for most owners.

Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide


RSS: Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

Posted December 31, 2013 by rrts in -NEWS

Between devil and deep blue sea   Leave a comment

Poulomi Banerjee, Hindustan Times

For Ajay Furtado, a former sailor, probably the most vivid memory of his last sail in 2010 is one of fear. “My wife and daughters were accompanying me on that trip and I saw the ship in front of me being attacked by pirates. It was the scariest moment of my life, since I had my family with me,” he recalls. Furtado had survived three pirate attacks prior to this, when the pirates had looted the ships and left.

According to Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP), an NGO, as of December 2013, 50 sailors from across the world are being held hostage by pirates. Eight of them are Indians.

The International Maritime Organisation, a specialised United Nations agency, describes piracy as any illegal act of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft.

But Furtado has another definition when talking of pirates: “The Asian pirates are more gentlemanly. They will take what you have and leave. The African pirates, especially the Somali pirates, are barbaric,” he says.

A spokesperson for Essar Shipping says, ” Since the 1990’s, South East Asia has been identified as one of the global ‘destination’ of pirate attacks on merchant vessels. However for the past several years, piracy has emerged as a significant threat to world shipping in Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea.”

Adds Anjan Sinha, an Indian seafarer currently based in Singapore,  “Piracy is also making its presencefelt in the Gulf of Guinea, which includes littorals of Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Unlike along the Horn of Africa (that includes Somalia), no effective naval forces are active here.”

For the sailors, sailing in these high risk areas entail a constant threat to life. Abduction means captivity, sometimes for years, and physical ordeals that range from being beaten up to being left with little or no food for days at a stretch. “Between 2008 to 2013 more than 4,000 sailors have been held captive by pirates,” informs Chirag Bahri, regional director, MPHRP. Thirty-three  Indian sailors returned home in 2013 after being released by the pirates.

The issue of piracy was back in focus with the arrest of Captain Sunil James, an Indian seafarer, in Togo. James had alighted  at Togo to report a pirate attack on his vessel.

He was finally released and returned home on December 19. His arrest again fanned the debate over the role of the government and shipowners/operators in securing a sailor’s release in case of a pirate attack and ensuing legalities, if any. Sinha gives the example of the hijacking of MV Maersk Alabama, an American vessel in April, 2009, while talking of the government’s role.

The US had used navy seals to kill the pirates and release the captain of the vehicle. The rescue operation inspired a book and the film Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks in the title role. “Every Navy is capable of this but does not do it to avoid international arguments,” says Sinha.

The IMO has issued advisaries/guidelines to both the government and shipowners and operators to help prevent acts of piracy.  While the Indian Navy is part of an international contingent that guards high risk areas, the government has been blamed of being lackadaisical in its attitude towards sailors.

In 2012, Delhi-based lawyer, Gaurav Kumar Bansal, moved the Supreme Court to direct the Centre to take urgent steps for ensuring release of Indian sailors held captive by Somali pirates since 2010 and for framing “effective” anti-piracy guidelines.

In response to the petition, the Centre, in April 2013 had informed the Supreme Court that it will soon bring in a legislation, the Anti Piracy Bill 2012, to address the problem. The sailors were released in 2013.

“The Bill is yet to be passed,” says Bansal.  Adds Furtado, “The lack of urgency shown by the Indian government in such cases is related to the lack of public awareness on marine piracy.

In 2011, on an average, approximately one ship a week was attacked by pirates. If the same had been true for aeroplanes it would have made international news.” The MPHRP and the government itself, though, refute any lapse in action when it comes to extending all possible help to sailors and their families.

“In case of a pirate attack and abduction of an Indian seafarer, we get in touch with the shipowner/operator to gather information and reach out to the seafarer in any possible way. None of the cases of abduction/hostage yet have been on a vessel bearing an Indian flag.

So we get in touch with the flag nation of the vessel concerned, the country where the Indian national seafarer is being held hostage and also international law enforcement agencies concerned to ask them to use their influence over the shipowner/operator to help the seafarers.

Medical assistance wherever feasible and need based is also sought to be arranged,” explains Deepak Shetty, joint director general, directorate general of shipping, Government of India. Shetty admits that communication can be a challenge when the Indian sailor is working in a foreign vessel.

“Some flag nations are less responsive than others. But we also raise the issue at international platforms,” he says.

Shetty also talks of being in touch with and extending help to the family of the seafarer and efforts made to rehabilitate the sailor once he is released. “343 Indian sailors have been taken hostage by pirates since 2008, . Eight are still in captivity, one died and one is missing. All the others have been brought back,” says Shetty.

He doesn’t talk of the time taken to ensure their release.

In case of abduction, to pay the ransom is, of course, the responsibility of the ship owner/operator. Big operators and ship owners usually have a policy in place to help sailors.

A spokesperson for Essar Shipping says, “The company has policy to provide armed security guardson board its vessels, as and when ships transit through the Gulf of Aden. All ships are registered under MSCHOA (Marine Security Center – Horn of Africa) while they transit the high risk area.

The seafarers are given counselling on what to do if pirates take control, in event of military action and emergency communication.” But sailors share that all is not as it seems on paper.

Especially when it comes to smaller operators.

“Sailors are supposed to have a choice when it comes to sailing in high risk areas. If a sailor refuses, the company is to arrange for his return. But most often, if a sailor refuses to sail to a high risk area, he has to arrange for his own return.

Also, I have noticed that sailors who have refused to sail in such areas find it difficult to find employment subsequently,” says a sailor on condition of anonymity.

Those in authority feel awareness is the best protection. “Sailors should choose only authorised/licensed recruitment and placement seafarers’ service providers/agencies,” cautions Shetty. “Knowing about the possible risks helps a sailor to be mentally alert and prepared,” says Bahri.

In troubled waters: case studies

Trapped, beaten, starved for three years

Jadhav was on watch-keeping duty on the MV Iceberg 1 when eight Somali pirates took the wheel at gunpoint on March 28, 2010. The vessel was carrying a cargo of tin and automobiles and was on its way to Dubai when it was waylaid and steered towards Somalia.

It would stay there until December 23, 2012.

For nearly three years, Jadhav and his colleagues lived in fear for their lives, with virtually no contact with their families and no idea of what would become of them.

“I was allowed to speak to my family only five times,” he says. “The only reason we were allowed to call at all was because the pirates wanted us to tell our families that we would all be killed if someone didn’t pay them their ransom.”

To intimidate the men further, sailors were often picked at random, beaten and locked alone in a room.

“Sometimes they would be gone for days, sometimes for months,” Jadhav says.

When one Yemeni sailor committed suicide, his body was kept in a freezer for four months. “When the ship ran out of diesel, they threw him in the water. Of all their mistreatment, that shook us the most,” says Jadhav.

Food was scarce for the prisoners. “We were given one chapati and a little boiled rice whenever the pirates felt like feeding us,” says Jadhav.

Their captors wanted 10 million dollars from the owners of the ship. “They kept telling us that we would be kept for 10 years if their demands were not met,” says Jadhav. “Our families said the government was trying to rescue us, but there was no immediate help, so we soon lost all hope.”

The 22 men on board the vessel were finally rescued by the Puntland maritime police, after a fight that lasted 13 days. During this rescue operation, Jadhav was injured after a bullet pierced his leg. There was no medical aid on the ship, so he spent four days of his captivity with a numb and bleeding leg, in excruciating pain from injuries, assaults by the pirates, and from having his limbs tied together.

“When we finally saw a chopper in the air, we knew that we were going home,” says Jadhav.

Five of the six Indian sailors on board returned on a flight organised by the Indian Air Force; the sixth was never found.

“My parents just kept weeping at the airport,” says Jadhav. “They don’t want me to go off to sea any more. They’re terrified that, next time, they won’t get me back.”

— Anubhuti Matta

Released, after 371 days in captivity

Both Arun and Kumar were working on the MT Royal Grace, when it was captured by pirates on 2 March, 2012, near Oman. MT Royal Grace had set sail from Dubai on 28 February, 2012, with a 22-member crew. Seventeen of the 22 on board were Indians. Previously owned by a Dubai-based company, the vessel had just been acquired by a Nigerian owner, and the crew were taking the ship to hand it over.

“We had no cargo on board, but we had filled the ship with sea water to reduce the rocking of the vessel and so it appeared loaded,” explains Kumar. It was at approximately 4pm on 2 March that the pirates boarded the ship and took the crew hostage.

“The group of ten pirates came in a speedboat. They wouldn’t believe us when we told them that the ship was empty. When they found it really was, they became very angry. They were Somali pirates, known to come far away from their own shores to attack ships. After they took us hostage, they took the ship to Somalia. Then they called the Nigerian owner of the ship and demanded 25 million dollars as ransom. The owner said that it was too high a sum, and then negotiations started,” remembers Kumar.

Arun remembers that he was allowed to call home two-three times. “They always wanted us to tell our families to arrange for the money or they would kill us,” he says. Food was scarce, “a little rice and potato. And we didn’t get food everyday. I weighed only 40kgs when I was released. If I had been in captivity for a few more days I would have died,” says Arun.

Adds Kumar, “Some of us had been given permission to fish. Physical abuse was routine. Sometimes they would tie us up and hang us upside down. A senior Nigerian officer died of a heart attack a month after we were taken hostage. We preserved his body for a month, but when we realised we weren’t getting released anytime soon, we had to give him a sea burial.”

Finally the owner agreed to pay 10 million dollars, but then he started putting off the payments. “There was no cargo. For so much money he could have bought a new ship. He probably wasn’t too keen on paying the ransom,” says Arun.

The crew were finally released on 8 March 2013, after 371 days in captivity. “We are still not sure who paid the ransom money. The owner of our ship didn’t. We heard that soon after capturing our ship, the same group of pirates had captured a ship owned by a Greek company. Many of the crew members of that ship were Indian.

The owner of that ship paid 18 million dollars to the pirates, as a result of which they let us off too,” says Kumar, adding, “The Indian government did nothing to help us. Our families met many senior politicians. They would assure them of helping us, but nothing transpired. After we were released they gave us some bravery award. A few also managed to get jobs with big companies. But there was little help when we were in trouble.”

Kumar would like to return to sea, but his parents are terrified of letting him go again. He is now busy setting up a business of his own. Arun would like a shore job, but he is still recuperating from the trauma of that year spent in captivity.

— PB

Posted December 31, 2013 by rrts in -NEWS

Live Piracy & Armed Robbery Report 2013   1 comment

  • Attack Number:
  • Date:
    Sat Dec 28 2013
  • Type of Vessel :
    Crude Tanker
  • Location detail:
    Momanal, Colombia.
  • Type of Attack :
  • Narrations:
    28.12.2013: 0100- 0200 LT: Posn: 10:18N – 075:32W: Momanal Anchorage, Colombia.
    Robbers boarded an anchored tanker via the hawse, stole ship properties and escaped without being noticed by the deck patrol. Robbery reported to the local authorities and port agent.

Posted December 30, 2013 by rrts in -NEWS

ANTI-PIRACY   1 comment

Posted December 29, 2013 by rrts in -NEWS


Photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons/ Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky

Photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons/ Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky

Piracy remains a concern for ships that pass the Horn of Africa, although where piracy was once rampant in the Indian Ocean, the number of incidents have declined since 2011.

While the topic of piracy grips the public imagination — the success of the film “Captain Phillips” bears witness to this — not one single vessel was hijacked in the Indian Ocean this year, according to the United States Office of Naval Intelligence.

This is the fourth annual decline in pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia. The Independentreported that there were 46 hijackings in 2009 (the year the Maersk Alabama, the subject of the film Captain Phillips, was seized by Somali pirates), 47 hijackings in 2010, 14 in 2012 and none in 2013.

According to Quartz, pirate attacks are at the lowest level since 2006 because of an increased presence of international navies in and around the Indian Ocean; onshore al-Shabaab militants who have shifted tactics to guerrilla warfare; and vigilance among vessel owners, who have rerouted and fortified ships to combat piracy.

But let’s backtrack a bit and consider why Somali piracy started in the first place?

Amber Lyon reported on RYOT that Somali piracy started because “foreign companies are illegally over-fishing Somali waters and dumping large quantities of nuclear and hazardous waste off of Somalia’s coast.”

Although pirates have still attacked vessels off the Horn of Africa, only nine vessels were attacked, four of which were in the final two months of this year. No vessel was successfully hijacked by pirates.

Ships that pass by the west coast of Africa have been less fortunate this year, as 31 ships were attacked by pirates and nine of them were seized in the Gulf of Guinea.

Posted December 28, 2013 by rrts in -NEWS