Archive for March 2014


Officials signing one of the two agreements.

DOHA: Given Qatar’s huge oil and gas reserves and its reliance on sea trade, maritime defence is of paramount importance to the country, says a high-ranking military official.

“Our resources are based on oil and gas production, mostly on the sea and they are being exported all over the world through the sea. This explains why maritime defence is very important to us,” said Staff Brigadier (Sea) Tariq Al Obaidli, Assistant Director, National Security Shield Project.

He was one of the speakers at the Middle East Naval Commanders Conference (MENC) yesterday as part of the fourth Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX 2014) at Qatar National Convention Centre.

The total area of Qatar’s sea waters is about 35,000sqkm, three times its land area, “which means we depend more on the sea than on land,” he said.

The instability in the Arab world and Qatar’s hosting of global events, including the Men’s Handball World Championship 2015 and World Cup 2022, are among other reasons why the country is keen to protect its land and sea, he added.

Maritime defence challenges, he said, are varied and include terrorist acts in the sea, destruction of pipelines, drug trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing and oil and gas leakage, among others.

To ensure maritime security, he said latest planes and helicopters and the most advanced ships and communication tools as well as good coordination with air defence are necessary. An excellent human capital is also needed, “students with know-how and military officers with high spirits.”

He also outlined Qatar’s National Security Shield Project, its nature and objectives.

“The objective is to protect the borders of Qatar by founding a unit with high capability that can protect the land and sea. This project relies on the use of latest technology that helps military forces execute operations as quickly as possible,” he explained.

Qatar Emiri Naval Forces Commander, Major General Mohammed Nasser Al Mohannadi, opened the conference, stressing its import role in serving as a platform to find solutions facing new emerging threats to naval security.

Meanwhile, two agreements were signed at DIMDEX 2014 at the centre.

Further expanding business relations between Qatar and Turkey, Deputy of Director Logistics Department, Brig. Abdullah Saad Al Kharji, representing the Interior Ministry, and Kerim Kalafatoglu, Chairman and Executive Director for ARES Shipyard, signed a MoU to deliver 17 new fast patrol boats within 56 months to Qatar Coast Guard Services. ARES is a specialist composite boat yard, based in Turkey’s free trade zone.

The National Security Shield (NSS) and Defence Services Marketing Council (DSMC) signed an agreement to hold the annual Qatar Maritime Security – Maritime Reconnaissance and Surveillance Conference this October under the theme ‘Maritime Domain Awareness, The Steps to Maritime Security’. The agreement was signed by Staff Brig. (Pilot) Mohammed A Al Mannai, Director, Qatar National Security Shield Project, and Matthew Cochran, Chairman,  Defence Services Marketing Council.

Posted March 31, 2014 by rrts in -NEWS


Cristóbal Colón meets with USS Harry S Truman (background) in the Sea of Oman (Supplied photo)

Senior officers from the Standing Nato Maritime Group 2 (SNMG-2) met their counterparts from the US Carrier Strike Group 10 in the Sea of Oman recently, holding briefings and exchanging information on NATO’s ‘Ocean Shield’ anti-piracy operations in the region.

Rear Admiral Eugenio Díaz del Río, commander of the SNMG-2, welcomed Rear Admiral Kevin Sweeney, commander of the USS Harry S Truman carrier strike group, onboard the Spanish F-100 frigate Cristóbal Colón, according to a Spanish Navy release.

During the visit, Rear Admiral Sweeney was briefed on current anti-piracy operations in regional waters.

NATO’s standing naval groups 1 and 2 will rotate every six months within ‘Ocean Shield’ operation, committed until the end of 2014.

Posted March 31, 2014 by rrts in -NEWS


Here’s a major piece of research from the US Naval War College about China’s participation in Gulf of Aden anti-piracy operations over the last four-plus years. It’s from November last year but very much still worth flagging.

It’s incredibly thorough, covering everything from operational lessons to the dietary and psychological needs of sailors on long-term deployments to the larger strategic motives behind China’s involvement in this multilateral effort:

…antipiracy escorts have furthered China’s strategic and doctrinal shift from a purely land-based power to an oceanic power, in part by fostering maritime culture in and through the PLAN. When PLAN escort task forces cross “China’s traditional maritime boundary” on their way to the Gulf of Aden, the ships’ crews each reportedly conduct a solemn ceremony of taking and signing pledges.

Indeed, many Chinese view escort operations as only the beginning of a larger process in which China’s military development will increasingly mirror its rapidly expanding national interests. If indeed this proves true in practice, decades from now China’s Gulf of Aden mission will be seen as the genesis of the nation’s ascent as a global maritime power. Indeed, at a symposium in Beijing in January 2012 to mark the three-year anniversary of China’s Gulf of Aden mission, Adm. Wu Shengli remarked that escort operations were a landmark event in the historical development of China’s navy.

Posted March 31, 2014 by rrts in -NEWS


Pirate attacks around the world have been on the wane in the last few years, based on the latest report by ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

Last year, there were 264 attempted and actual attacks, down from 297 in 2012. The figure has been falling since 2010 — a trend which the IMB credited to more international patrols and military action in piracy-prone waters.

But despite the improving situation, the IMB report — which takes into account territories or countries whose ships were attacked at least a dozen times throughout the year — showed that ships managed from or registered in Singapore were among the most targeted by pirates.

Last year, 79 Singapore-managed vessels reported piracy incidents — the highest among all territories and countries — compared to 34 and 20 ships that were managed by Germany and Greece, respectively. There were also 39 ships registered in Singapore which reported attacks, second only to ships flying the Liberian flag (43).

Ships registered in Singapore fly the Republic’s flag but can originate from anywhere.

IMB Head of the Piracy Reporting Centre Noel Choong told TODAY that he did not think that ships managed from or registered in Singapore were prime targets for pirates for whatever reasons, including the level of security. He added that these shipmasters could have been more proactive in reporting pirate attacks.

Flag states whose ships were attacked 12 times or moreJANUARY – DECEMBER 2013Hong KongMarshall IslandPanamaSingaporeLiberia4339323120

Compared to the rest of the world, South-east Asia was the most piracy-prone region in the world last year, with 128 pirate attacks. In comparison, there were 79 and 26 attacks in the waters off Africa and the Indian subcontinent, respectively.

Pirates in the region around Singapore usually attack vessels during the night and are armed with knives, guns and machetes, the IMB report stated. Mr Choong said that in contrast to attacks in African waters, Southeast Asian pirates are easier to defend against as they tend to escape without confronting the crew once the alarm is raised. The bureau noted that the number of attacks in the Straits of Malacca has fallen substantially since aggressive patrols by littoral states — Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia — began in 2005.


The fall in the number of piracy attacks around the world was helped by a large drop in attacks in the Gulf of Aden. Once considered among the world’s most dangerous waters with 117 attacks in 2009, ships travelling through the gulf — located in the Arabian Sea, between Yemen and Somalia — reported only six attacks last year.

The IMB attributed this improvement to increased military action on suspicious small boats, military land-based anti-piracy operations, preventive measures and increased armed guards on ships.

Managing countries whose ships were attacked 12 times or more JANUARY – DECEMBER 2013United KingdomHong KongGreeceGermanySingapore7934201613

Earlier this year, the Daily Telegraph attributed the declining trend to the security measures that came in the wake of the rampant piracy off the Somali coast between 2000 and 2010. In particular, Aug 21, 2008 was cited as the day when the shipping world woke up to the scale of the threat. That day, gangs of heavily armed pirates in skiffs were able to seize the merchant vessels Iran Deyanat, Irene and BBC Trinidad and hold their crews and cargos to ransom. The Daily Telegraph reported that within months in 2010, armed guards went from being a risky prospect to the industry standard for the world’s big shipping firms plying these waters. Now, there are hundreds of armed guards at sea off the coast of Somalia on any one day.

Since 2009, Singapore has been part of international anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden. Earlier this month, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) announced its fifth deployment of a task group which consisted of Formidable-class stealth frigate RSS Tenacious with a Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk naval helicopter on board. Prior to this deployment, the SAF has deployed task groups, comprising a Landing Ship Tank with two Super Puma Helicopters in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and a Formidable-class stealth Frigate with one Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopter in 2012.


The Singapore Armed Forces sends a 151-strong task group on RSS Tenacious to the Gulf of Aden in support of international counter-piracy efforts, March 17, 2014. Photo: Ernest Chua

Total incidents per region of the worldJANUARY – DECEMBER 2013Far EastAmericasIndian subcontinentAfricaSoutheast Asia12879261813


While Mr Choong acknowledged that the anti-piracy efforts in general were bearing fruit, he nevertheless expressed concern over the number of unreported attacks. Citing IMB’s estimate that more than half of pirate attacks go unreported, Mr Choong said: “A lot of ships, when nothing is stolen, they do not want to report because (there is) a lot of paperwork, a lot of hassle (involved in reporting). Sometimes, the shipmasters want a clean record. The bad thing is if they do not report, another ship is going to get robbed.” The IMB noted that in particular, many unreported attacks happen in Indonesian waters. It advised ships to remain vigilant, report all actual and attempted attacks, and adopt anti-piracy measures.

Type of attacksJANUARY – DECEMBER: 2009- 201320092010201120122013050100150200250BOARDEDFIRED UPONATTEMPTEDHIJACKED1551961761742021211071132228858910567284953452812

Type of violence to crew
JANUARY – DECEMBER 2009 – 2013
2009201020112012201301002003004005006007008009001,0001,100AssaultedTaken hostageInjuredKidnapped / RansomedKilledMissingThreatenedGroupedStacked


Of the 264 attempted and actual attacks last year, 33 were listed in the IMB report as serious incidents and described in more detail. They took place in Gabon, the Ivory Coast, Malacca Straits, Malaysia, Nigeria, Somalia, the South China Sea and Togo. Three of the serious incidents were attacks on Singaporean or Singapore flagged ships. In one attack on Feb 22 last year, a Singaporean general cargo ship in Nigeria was chased and fired at by about six armed pirates. The alarm was raised and anti-piracy measures were activated, among other actions. The pirates eventually aborted their attempt to board the ship, and no injuries to the crew were reported, although the ship sustained some damages due to the firing. In another attack in Nigeria on June 13 last year, armed pirates successfully boarded a Singapore flagged tug. They kidnapped four crewmembers, and stole the crew’s personal belongings and valuables. The kidnapped crewmembers were released on June 21, and it is believed a ransom was paid.

Posted March 30, 2014 by rrts in -NEWS


By Deborah Sullivan Brennan

A sketch of the Spanish Armada destroyed by Captain Morgan. Image courtesy of the Mandeville Special Collections Library at UC San Diego.

A sketch of the Spanish Armada destroyed by Captain Morgan. Image courtesy of the Mandeville Special Collections Library at UC San Diego.

If you want to know more about early navigation and natural history, the logs of 17th Century pirates reveal a treasure trove of knowledge.

The rogue sailors who inspired swashbuckler tales were also some of the first naturalists, anthropologists and meteorologists, said UC San Diego history professor Mark Hanna, who will discuss their legacy in a lecture at the San Diego Natural History Museum Thursday.

His talk and a related display, “Pirates, Unlikely Naturalists,” accompany a new museum exhibit, “Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship,” which tells the story of the only authenticated pirate shipwreck discovered in U.S. waters.

English scholars who founded the Royal Society in 1660 laid the groundwork for modern science, based on empirical research and field observation. But global monopolies limited their exploration, banning ordinary English sailors and captains from sailing in parts of the world controlled by Spain, Hanna said.

“The only guys who were able to view these areas were those who committed acts of piracy,” Hanna said. “They were really smart, and took really good notes.”

The pirate William Dampier published a two volume book “A New Voyage Around the World,” in 1967, describing his findings in the Galapagos, China, Vietnam, Australia, India and Madagascar, Hanna said.

Dampier’s measurements of wind patterns informed Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of the Gulf Stream. And his descriptions of turtles in different regions influenced Charles Darwin’s observations of evolutionary change on the voyage of the Beagle.

“His descriptions of animals were so clear and beautifully written that they were incredibly useful to future scholars,” said Hanna, who details the works of Dampier and other pirates in his upcoming book, “Pirate Nests: The Rise of the British Empire.”

Posted March 30, 2014 by rrts in -NEWS


Malacca straits piracy
Malaysian special forces perform boat handling skills during an anti-piracy demonstration in the Straits of Malacca in 2004. For centuries, the 550 mile waterway has been a piracy hotspot. It has reclaimed its status as the world’s worst piracy locale from Somalia. (Jimin Lai/AFP/Getty Images)

Maybe God has a soft spot for pirates. That would explain the Strait of Malacca, a natural paradise for seafaring bandits.

Imagine an aquatic highway flowing between two marshy coasts. One shoreline belongs to Malaysia, the other to Indonesia. Each offers a maze of jungly hideaways: inlets and coves that favor pirates’ stealth vessels over slow, hulking ships.

It’s a narrow route running 550 miles, roughly the distance between Miami and Jamaica. This bottleneck is plied by one-third of the world’s shipping trade. That’s 50,000 ships per year — ferrying everything from iPads to Reeboks to half the planet’s oil exports.

The world’s fascination with neo-piracy now centers on Somalia. Thanks to the 2013 thriller “Captain Phillips,” in which Tom Hanks plays a cargo ship captain abducted by Somalis, even US teenagers know the anarchy-prone African state is a breeding ground for pirates.

At least it was. In truth, Hollywood stumbled onto Somalia’s piracy phenomenon rather late. In the last three years, pirate strikes in Somali waters have plummeted 95 percent to a meager seven incidents in 2013; none were successful.

Piracy in Southeast Asia, meanwhile, is accelerating. Attacks and attempted attacks in the waters of Indonesia — which controls much of the Malacca Strait and its environs — totaled 107 last year. That’s a 700 percent increase in just five years.

The German insurance firm Allianz, which released these figures in a new report, is now sounding a warning: Southeast Asian piracy must be reined in before it’s too late.

The attacks mostly amount to “opportunistic thefts carried out by small bands,” according to Allianz, but these syndicates could potentially “escalate into a more organized piracy model.”

Somali hijackers vs. Indonesian bandits

None of this would surprise 18th-century European spice traders. They lived in terror of Malacca Strait pirates who staged bloody ship raids — all from the same shores cargo ships chug past today.

Piracy has long transfixed locals “born to the hard and dreary life of the fisherman,” writes historian Donald B. Freeman in the 2003 book “Straits of Malacca: Gateway or Gauntlet?”

A pirate’s life, Freeman wrote, was traditionally viewed in the region as a “passport to adventure, riches and prestige rather than a criminal occupation.” This tradition, paired with the pirate-friendly terrain, “helped give the region a reputation that made merchants and legitimate seafarers tremble at the very thought of traversing the strait.”

Modern-day captains plying risky waters look to a guide called the BMP. Based on intel from Western navies and shipping firms, it offers tactics on avoiding pirates and — if that doesn’t work — fending them off and surviving abduction.

The guide’s best advice? Go really fast. No pirates have ever boarded a ship pushing 18 knots, or nearly 21 miles per hour, the guide says.

But that’s practically impossible in the Strait of Malacca.

The channel is simply too crowded and too shallow. Gigantic vessels are instead forced to churn through at slow speeds that invite pirates in fast-moving skiffs. (To save fuel, today’s cargo ships often travel at about 14 miles per hour. That’s slower than 19th-century sail boats.)

Indonesian pirates typically have different tactics from their Somali counterparts, who’ve made headlines by invading vessels and demanding multimillion-dollar ransoms.

In the Malacca Strait, pirates like to get in and get out. Their “modus operandi isn’t to kidnap,” according to Tim Donney, an Allianz marine risk consultant. “These pirates just want the cash aboard the vessel or to rob the crew of any valuables.”

In 2005, piracy in the Malacca Strait grew so rampant that Lloyd’s of London, a prestigious insurer, declared it a “war zone.” Regional militaries of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia responded by upping warship patrols in the strait.

But pirates have simply shifted into distant island chains beyond the strait’s exit along the route to China.

Indonesia isn’t nearly as lawless as Somalia. But both are coastal nations where poverty is rife and police are ill-equipped. Both also happen to be situated on routes trafficked by   wealthy nations’ trade vessels.

“Most piracy takes place in areas where people are poor. Their livelihood has been taken from them by globalization, civil unrest or war,” writes Nigel Cawthorne, author of the book “Pirates of the 21st Century.”

Somalia’s turnaround is owed to several factors: NATO- and EU-backed naval patrols, ships hiring on-board riflemen and, perhaps most importantly, a new Somali government working to stabilize its lawless coast.

Somali pirates also forced the shipping industry to get creative. They’ve come up with effective pirate-proofing techniques that could be applied to more ships entering the Malacca Strait. The BMP recommends blasting approaching pirates with hot water, ringing ships with razor wire and even installing electric fencing. Discharging foam, according to the manual, is “effective as it is disorientating and very slippery.”

Piracy poses no existential threat to the shipping industry. Considering the volume of international trade, losses from piracy “amount to little more than a rounding error,” according to piracy analyst Martin N. Murphy. But the “sense of disorder” created by piracy, he writes, “may be hard to calculate in dollars.”

Piracy along the Malacca Strait route should be easier to fight than in Somalia. All of the nations patrolling the strait have functioning governments, committed to fighting the problem, and are financially incentivized to maintain a bandit-free trade route.

Piracy’s historical influence here is legendary. In the 1820s, the Dutch and British empires drew a line in the sea and agreed to hunt down pirates on their respective sides; that line went on to become the modern-day border between Malaysia and Indonesia. The word “boogeyman” is also inspired by fearsome pirates from an ethnic group in Indonesia known as the Bugis.

Taking a longer view of history, the rise and fall of Somalia’s piracy may eventually be seen as a blip — a brief aberration from the traditional order in which the Malacca Strait area is the world’s top piracy zone.

Posted March 30, 2014 by rrts in -NEWS










Posted March 30, 2014 by rrts in -TRAINING