Archive for January 2014

Ivory Coast rebuilds navy to ward off growing piracy threat   1 comment

Ivory Coast is adding around 40 new vessels to its depleted navy as it confronts a growing threat from pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, the country’s defense minister said on Tuesday.

Attacks on commercial vessels off the coast of oil-rich West Africa jumped by a third last year. The first known hijacking of a vessel in Ivory Coast territorial waters occurred late in 2012. Similar attacks followed.

“These vessels will provide security on our rivers, the lagoon and at sea,” Defence Minister Paul Koffi Koffi said. “They will fight piracy, infiltration and illicit trafficking and will be managed by the navy.”

Ivory Coast’s navy was seriously damaged by 10 years of political upheaval that culminated in a brief civil war in 2011. Efforts to rebuild it have been hampered by a United Nations-imposed embargo on weapons imports.

However, the UN has approved the purchase of the new vessels, Koffi Koffi told Reuters, and some of them have already arrived. The order was placed with France’s Raidco Marine and includes around 30 inflatable speed launches. The rest are 9- to 12-metre craft and 33-metre patrol boats.

The minister declined to say how much Ivory Coast was paying for the vessels. Lorient-based Raidco Marine did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“I can tell you that right now we have practically nothing,” Koffi Koffi said.

The new vessels are due to be managed by the navy but will also be used by the police and gendarmerie.

(Reporting by Joe Bavier; Editing by Larry King)

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Posted January 30, 2014 by rrts in -NEWS

AFRICA: SHARP DROP IN AFRICAN PIRACY – ARE WE MISSING SOMETHING?   1 comment

Institute for Security Studies (Tshwane/Pretoria)
 

‘Piracy falls to a six-year low’ or ‘Dramatic drop in piracy rates’… These kinds of headlines looked great splashed across a web page or newspaper cover, and it’s the kind of good-news story that readers find hard to resist. But are these reports simply too good to be true?

At first glance, the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB’s) annual report on piracy and armed robbery against ships indeed shows that the threat of African maritime piracy continues to dwindle. However, upon closer scrutiny, a far more complex situation emerges.

According to the IMB, a total of 79 incidents occurred around Africa in 2013. Of these, 15 were attributed to Somali pirates and occurred near Somalia and the Horn of Africa; down from a total of 75 Somali piracy-attributed attacks in 2012. This downward trend is all the more notable given there were 237 attacks attributed to Somali piracy in 2011.

Many have optimistically concluded that the reduction in Somali incidents indicates that piracy is no longer the threat it once was; indeed, it could soon disappear altogether.

Such conclusions, however, fail to take into account recent controversies around statistical inadequacy in reports on African security, politics and economics. A different perspective on maritime security also emerges, raising questions about the accuracy of the piracy data. These questions have serious security implications and affect not only how the threat of piracy and armed robbery is perceived, but also how these and other maritime threats should be responded to.

The IMB does acknowledge some shortcomings in their report and suggests the real number of incidents is far greater. The main reason cited for the missing data is the widespread reluctance of shipping owners to report actual and attempted attacks, since they sustain additional costs and unwanted delays while an incident is investigated. The IMB therefore cautions that the annual report cannot provide definitive evidence that the threat of piracy has diminished.

IMB Director Captain Pottengal Mukundan warns that the report’s findings are not intended to produce a state of apathy, saying, ‘Any complacency at this stage could rekindle pirate activity.’ This reflection is occasionally picked up in media coverage of the report’s findings, but all too often these crucial nuances have been overlooked.

Underreporting is a major problem facing researchers, but there is another, arguably bigger problem that continues to confuse the debate on maritime security – that is the significant differences that exist in defining an act of piracy and differentiating it from an act of armed robbery. Such differing definitions existed among some of the key disseminators of piracy information and reporting, including the IMB, the United Nations-founded International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as well as the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), which has contributed to ongoing confusion over what counts an act of piracy.

The major differences existed between the IMB and the IMO definitions. The IMO definition is based on the definition of piracy in Article 101 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). UNCLOS provides the basis for international law on maritime issues and sees piracy as a universal and international crime. Actual and attempted attacks that occur inside of the 12 nautical mile boundary that a state can claim as its territorial waters are not defined as acts of piracy, but are called acts of armed robbery against a ship instead. This makes it a domestic and sovereign issue for the afflicted state.

Until 2009, the IMB had provided its own definition of piracy – one that encompassed many types of incidents, including those occurring in ports, in territorial waters or on the high seas. Despite the IMB’s eventual adoption of the IMO definition, their previous perception of piracy remains largely in place. Moreover, the IMB has not yet included a categorisation of incidents according to the IMO’s definition in its reports. Since many of the incidents in the IMB report do not occur on the high seas, these incidents cannot be classified as acts of piracy. This is not clearly reflected in the data, and as a result many in the media seem unaware of the difference between piracy and armed robbery – often choosing instead to report all 79 African incidents, even the 264 global incidents, as acts of piracy.

The IMB total can be further separated into actual and attempted attacks, and a technical breakdown of actual reported attacks gives the report a dimension that is distinct from the problems of underreporting.

Out of the 79 incidents in 2013, 44 were actual attacks. Of these, 24 incidents (or over 50%) were confirmed as occurring while a vessel was berthed or anchored in or outside of a port, rather than in international waters. In addition, eight out of the 35 attempted attacks in Africa occurred under similar circumstances. This means that almost half of the 79 reported incidents (32 or 40,5%), occurred while ships were located within territorial waters and anchorages, and are not recognised as acts of piracy under international law.

What, then, are the key points to be revealed by the IMB data?

A critical reading of the data points to the importance of improving maritime security in Africa’s ports, harbours, anchorages and territorial waters – a responsibility for states. This raises questions over the implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS code), which contains recommendations for securing ports and harbours. The ability of port and territorial water authorities to deter and respond to distress calls in their sovereign waters must be improved, which means the security of African ports, harbours and anchorages needs to be better explored.

There are additional practical reasons and implications that need to be considered. Massive amounts of time and money are invested in producing research and policy solutions to shape responses with both short- and long-term implications. These findings, however, rely on statistics.

The perception of the scale or location of piracy and maritime insecurity also affects acquisition plans and budgets for purchasing vessels to patrol waters, training of naval officers and crew and establishing agencies to administer or implement maritime security policies.

A critical overview makes it clear that more than one source of information is required so as to reveal a more comprehensive picture from that which is typically presented. This reveals different sets of priorities that need to be the subject of future discussion.

African states and Regional Economic Communities (RECS), via national and integrated maritime strategies, are allocating scarce resources to secure their maritime domains – often through the creation of new Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) centres. These MDAs will collect information and report on incidents such as piracy, as well as incidents of smuggling, illegal fishing and pollution, to give a localised and focused picture of the causes of maritime insecurity. It remains to be seen how MDA centres will avoid some of the pitfalls in reporting piracy incidents.

The lack of nuanced reporting on the state of African maritime security reflects a clamour for straightforward solutions to a problem that is still to be fully understood. Recognising this lacuna is an important step in improving knowledge of piracy and armed robbery, and will contribute in bringing forward the debate on African maritime security.

Timothy Walker is a researcher in the Conflict Management and Peace Building Division of the ISS in Pretoria.

Posted January 30, 2014 by rrts in -NEWS

EU Naval Force Frigate FGS Hessen Interacts With Local Fishermen off The Horn Of Africa   Leave a comment

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Posted January 29, 2014 by rrts in -NEWS

Spanish Air Forces Rotate EU Naval Force Aircraft Crew In Djibouti   Leave a comment

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Posted January 29, 2014 by rrts in -NEWS

Live Piracy & Armed Robbery Report 2014   1 comment

  • Attack Number:
    013-14
  • Date:
    Sat Jan 18 2014
  • Type of Vessel :
    Crude Tanker
  • Attack Posn Map :
Mapa
Satélite
20 km

 
  • Location detail:
    Luanda anchorage
  • Type of Attack :
    Hijacked
  • Narrations:
    18.01.2014: Off Luanda Anchorage, Angola.
    A crude oil tanker was reported missing from Luanda anchorage on 18 Jan 2014 and suspected to be hijacked by pirates. All communications with the tanker had been lost. On 26 Jan 2014 the Master made contact with the owners reporting that the tanker had been released and that the pirates had stolen a large amount of cargo. One crew was reported injured during the hijacking.

Posted January 29, 2014 by rrts in -NEWS

Live Piracy & Armed Robbery Report 2014   1 comment

  • Attack Number:
    012-14
  • Date:
    Thu Jan 16 2014
  • Type of Vessel :
    General Cargo
  • Attack Posn Map :
    Mapa
    Satélite
    20 km

     
  • Location detail:
    Tanjung Priok Anchorage, Jakarta
  • Type of Attack :
    Boarded
  • Narrations:
    16.01.2014: 0315 LT: Posn: 06:02S – 106:53E, Tanjung Priok Anchorage, Jakarta, Indonesia.
    Four robbers armed with a gun and long knives in a small speed boat approached and boarded an anchored general cargo ship. They took hostage the duty watchman, entered into the engine room and held the duty engine room crew. The robbers stole engine spares and managed to escape in their boat upon hearing the alarm raised by the duty officer.

Posted January 29, 2014 by rrts in -NEWS

PIRATES HIJACKED TANKER OFF ANGOLA, STOLE CARGO – OWNERS   1 comment

The Greek owners of an oil tanker that vanished off the Angolan coast on Jan. 18 said on Sunday that pirates had hijacked the vessel and stolen a large quantity of cargo, contradicting the Angolan navy’s denial that such an assault took place.

Greece-based Dynacom, owners of the 75,000 deadweight tonne Liberian-flagged tanker MT Kerala, said it had managed to contact crew on the vessel who reported the pirates had left.

“Pirates hijacked the vessel offshore Angola and stole a large quantity of cargo by ship-to-ship transfer. The pirates have now disembarked,” the company said in a statement.

It did not provide any further details on the attack or the ship’s current location but added that all crew were safe.

Dynacom’s version of the events contradicted an account from the Angolan navy, which alleged the crew had turned off the ship’s communications to fake a pirate attack.

Captain Augusto Alfredo, spokesman for the Angolan navy, told Reuters earlier on Sunday that the ship had been located in Nigeria and that reports of a hijacking were false.

The reports raised concern that piracy off West Africa was spreading south from the Gulf of Guinea, near Africa’s biggest oil producer Nigeria, where most hijacking gangs are believed to originate.

Pirate attacks jumped by a third last year off West Africa. Any attack off Angola, which is the continent’s No. 2 crude producer, would be the most southerly to date.

“It was all faked, there have been no acts of piracy in Angolan waters,” Alfredo told Reuters. “What happened on Jan. 18, when we lost contact with the ship, was that the crew disabled the communications on purpose.”

Alfredo declined to comment on how the navy had established the behaviour of the MT Kerala’s crew, saying only that other authorities may provide further details later.

He also would not be drawn on the crew’s possible motivation but said the ship was due to finish a time-charter contract for the Angolan state oil firm Sonangol on Feb. 12.

Sonangol said on Friday the MT Kerala had 27 crew, all of them Indian or Filipino.

Alfredo said a tugboat had contacted the tanker in Angolan waters and then led it to Nigeria. The tugboat was a replica of one involved in a pirate attack off Gabon last year, he said.

An SOS raised by another tanker in Angolan waters saying it was under attack from pirates on Friday was also a false alarm, he added.

“The navy and the air force went to the location and did not find any signs of an attack. We want to know if this was a diversion tactic and will remain alert as there may be some forces manoeuvring behind these acts,” Alfredo said. (Reporting by Shrikesh Laxmidas in Lisbon and Renee Maltezou in Athens).

uk.reuters.com

Posted January 28, 2014 by rrts in -NEWS