Archive for November 2015

Somalia: Pakistani fishing vessel hijacked off Puntland coast   1 comment

GAROWE, Somalia – Somali pirates marked first armed robbery in the Indian Ocean in months with the hijacking of Pakistani fishing boat off the coast of historic Eyl coastal town in northeastern Somalia, officials told Garowe Online on Monday.

Puntland Counter-Piracy Agency Director, Abdirizak Mohamed Dirir Du’aysane said, a fishing boat with 15 crew members on board fell into the hands of three Somali pirates.

The hijacked boat—Iranian-flagged—but owned by Pakistanis was forced to sail towards a pirate enclave, El Hur.

Overnight on Sunday, many fishing vessels, believed to be illegal trawlers were sighted in territorial waters, he added.

The zeisure by a gang of three from fledgling Galmudug in central Somalia marks the first in recent years.

Puntland Anti-Piracy Agency Director has warned of the return of high seas crimes, more probably on the grounds of unprecedented pillage in the Exclusive Economic Zone.

Somali pirates have this week freed Thai vessel in a signal for potential spurt in piracy incidents in the war-ravaged East African country.


Posted November 24, 2015 by rrts in -NEWS

Pace of Piracy in Asia Increases from 2014   1 comment

TankerThe tanker Almi Spirit, boarded by pirates in October (file photo)

By MarEx 

The latest monthly report from Asian anti-piracy organization ReCAAP shows that while incidents were down in the month of October, the total for 2015 is on pace to exceed last year’s 187 attacks. There have already been 174 attacks so far this year.

The report builds on ReCAAP’s quarterly numbers showing attacks up 25 percent in the first three months of 2015.

Annual and YTD piracy numbers, 2011-2015 (ReCAAP)

A majority of the reported incidents in October occurred in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS). The waters near Indonesia and Malaysia, especially the Straits of Malacca, are notorious for the risk of piracy.

The most noteworthy hijacking attempt reported to ReCAAP last month was on the Aframax tanker Almi Spirit, in which six pirates with knives got on board and got as far as the engine room. They were spotted by the chief engineer and chased off upon the arrival of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency ship Rawa. Several pirates jumped into the sea in their effort to escape, and reports indicate that they used a boat to get away.

If the attack had been successful, it would have been the largest haul of the year. The tanker was reportedly carrying some $23 million worth of fuel oil.

The most serious attacks – classified by ReCAAP as those involving nine or more armed pirates in a successful hijacking or robbery – total to 11 so far this year, all on tankers. No attacks of this class were reported in the month of October.

Posted November 19, 2015 by rrts in -NEWS

Ransom Paid for Solarte Crew   Leave a comment

piratesfile photo

By MarEx 

The owners of the Russian reefer Solarte have paid ransom money to obtain the release of four crewmen kidnapped off Nigeria in October.

The two Lithuanian and two Ukrainian crewmembers are now travelling home.

Solarte was attacked by pirates on October 21 when it was 100 nautical miles off Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The pirates boarded the ship, stole cash, broke all communication and navigational equipment and kidnapped four of the 19 crew on board.

The vessel was en route from Cotonou, Benin to Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The attack was the first incident reported at sea off the Niger Delta in five months.

Posted November 19, 2015 by rrts in -NEWS

Djibouti Code Expanding Scope Beyond Piracy   Leave a comment

buildingThe Djibouti Regional Training Centre

By MarEx 

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 is set to significantly broaden its scope.

Signatories to the Djibouti Code of Conduct have agreed to work towards extending its remit to address other illicit maritime activity that threatens safety and security in the region, such as marine terrorism, environmental crimes, human trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

National representatives (focal points) for the code, which was adopted under the auspices of the IMO in 2009, have adopted a resolution expressing concern at the increasing risks from transnational organized crimes at sea and other threats to maritime safety and security in the region. They agreed to encourage information sharing on all illicit activities at sea.

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 other efforts by shipping companies and naval forces.

The representatives recognized that piracy in the region has merely been suppressed, and its root causes have yet to be addressed. They agreed that there is now a window of opportunity for IMO member states in the region to implement capacity-building programs to prevent a resurgence of piracy and to address wider maritime security issues, as a basis for sustainable development of the maritime sector.

The representatives met November 11-12 in the newly-completed Djibouti Regional Training Centre, which was formally opened by Moussa Ahmed Hassan, Djibouti’s Minister of Equipment and Transport, on Thursday November 12. The Djibouti Regional Training Centre will play a key role in regional capacity-building initiatives under the Code of Conduct.

IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu, speaking by video message during the ceremony, encouraged the Government of Djibouti to be imaginative in its use of the new building and to be proactive in maximizing its potential, for the benefit of the whole region. The center could be used as a venue for wider port, maritime, law-enforcement or indeed any other training, conferences and meetings, as well as being a center of excellence for regional maritime security training, he said.

“This impressive new center will be a vital component in the provision of maritime security and other training in the Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean area and fully supports IMO’s 2015 World Maritime Day theme: maritime education and training. It should be an asset to Djibouti and to the region for many years to come,” Sekimizu said.

The national focal points meeting also approved the 2016 plan for regional training for Djibouti Code of Conduct countries.

Construction of the Djibouti Regional Training Centre was funded by Japan, through the Djibouti Code Trust Fund, with equipment provided by Denmark and the Republic of Korea.

IMO continues to support member states to implement the Djibouti Code of Conduct through its Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) and through the Djibouti Code Trust Fund. It also maintains a presence in the region, focused on the code, with two staff members based in Nairobi, Kenya, whose primary role is training.

Djibouti Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden (the Djibouti Code of Conduct) provides a framework for capacity building in the Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean to counter the threat of piracy.

The Code was signed on 29 January 2009 by the representatives of: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Seychelles, Somalia, the United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen. Comoros, Egypt, Eritrea, Jordan, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates have since signed, bringing the total to 20 countries.

Since its adoption, the Code has become the major focus for facilitating transnational communication, coordination and cooperation in its four thematic broad pillars: delivering national and regional training, enhancing national legislation, information sharing and building counter-piracy capacity.

Posted November 19, 2015 by rrts in -NEWS

Pirate Leader Arrested in Philippines   1 comment

RehobotThe tanker Rehobot in February (file photo)

By MarEx 

Authorities in the Philippines have arrested the alleged leader of a gang of pirates who hijacked the tanker Rehobot earlier this year.

Indonesian and Filipino police cooperated in apprehending the alleged pirate leader, Danilo Sorote Wangkanusa. On the morning of November 11, when they served a warrant at Mr. Wangkanusa’s rental house in Davao City, Mindanao, he attempted to escape by leaping from a second story window. Authorities captured him shortly thereafter.

A spokesperson for the police said that Mr. Wangkanusa had been in hiding in Davao City since February.

Once Mr. Wangkanusa’s papers are processed, authorities say he will be deported to Indonesia to face trial, as the alleged offense occurred in Indonesian waters. He was one of Indonesia’s most wanted fugitives. Police officials said that they are checking his background to determine whether he has any connection to terrorist groups.

A group of half a dozen pirates hijacked the Rehobot on January 28. Initial reports said that eight masked men with knives had boarded the Rehobot from a wooden boat, and forced her crew of 14 onto a lifeboat.

Four individuals accused of being involved in the attack were arrrested in Indonesia in February.

On February 19, the tanker was found abandoned, aground on a mud bottom near Davao City, about 400 nautical miles from the area where the vessel was reportedly captured.

The vessel had 1,100 tons of diesel on board before the hijacking, and authorities believe that the fuel was transferred to another ship before the Rehobot was abandoned.

Media reports indicate that there were no calls for ransom of crew or claims of responsibility by any organization.

Coast Guard authorities on Mindanao are in discussions with the Indonesian consul and with a private salvage firm about the disposition of the Rehobot.

The vessel has not been recovered by its owner or its insurer, and authorities report that residents nearby have been involved in looting the vessel since its abandonment. If it is not claimed, it will likely be scrapped or sold.

“Though the vessel is free from oil spill, I will have to talk again with the Indonesian consul and [salvage firm] Harbor Star for the scrapping of the vessel,” Commodore Joselito F. dela Cruz of the Philippine Coast Guard said.

Southeast Asian waters have long been notorious for piracy, and 2015 has been no exception. The ICC’s International Maritime Bureau reported an average of one pirate attack every two weeks in Southeast Asia in the first half of the year.

Posted November 19, 2015 by rrts in -NEWS

U.N. Reauthorizes Anti-Piracy Ops   1 comment

Pirates_arrestFile photo

By MarEx 

On November 10, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York reauthorized international naval action in fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia, stressing that “while the threat from Somali pirates has declined, it still remains a matter of grave concern.”

The UNSC highlighted the important role played by shipsfrom the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) and NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield, but noted that the primary responsibility lies with Somalia, a country torn apart by 25 years of strife.

“While noting improvements in Somalia, [the Council] recognizes that piracy exacerbates instability in Somalia by introducing large amounts of illicit cash that fuels additional crime and corruption,” the resolution declared.

At its height, piracy off Somalia’s coasts netted scores of vessels, from large container ships to small leisure yachts, resulting in hundreds of people being held hostage and millions of dollars being paid in ransom.

Since the UN first authorized international naval intervention in 2008, the rate of vessel seizures and kidnappings has gradually declined.

Today’s resolution urged flag, port and coastal states to cooperate in prosecuting perpetrators, and proposed specialized anti-piracy courts in Somalia with international participation.The statement also stressed that economic and social development are essential for the lasting eradication of piracy off Somalia.

Separately, a recent report by Colorado-based research organization Secure Fisheries found that renewed fishing by lightly regulated foreign vessels off the coast of Somalia could negatively affect the Somali fishery and its 10,000 fishermen. The recent improvements in security have permitted the return of fishing vessels from Iran, Yemen and other nations to Somalia’s territorial seas.

Historically, the conflict between Somali and foreign fishing vessels – among many factors, including the involvement of criminal enterprises run by warlords – has been linked to piracy activity in the region.

The report echoes warnings in March from U.N. and Somali officials regarding the use of illegal fishing as a pretext for renewed piracy. Some Somali government sources and industry representatives have expressed frustration that the international naval forces tasked with stopping piracy have not detained illegal fishing vessels.

“If they have a mandate to protect the [shipping] lanes from the pirates, they have to protect the resources of these poor people against illegal fishing,” said Abdiwahid Mohamed Hersi, chief executive of Global Sea Food International, a Somalia company.

Posted November 19, 2015 by rrts in -NEWS

Floating Armory Caught In Scandal   Leave a comment

File photo
Sri Lankan security firm Avant Garde Maritime Services (AGMS) has become embroiled in scandal as two of its floating armory vessels remain under arrest.The armory vessel Avant Garde was arrested in the port of Galle in October. AGMS officials say they received permission from the Ministry of Defence for the vessel to enter the port, but upon arrival, Sri Lankan Navy officials boarded the ship and placed it under government control. The company described the Navy’s actions as a “downright betrayal.”Sri Lankan authorities found 816 T56 (an AK-47 variant) and 84 S type firearms on board the ship, along with about 200,000 rounds of ammunition. The vessel was allegedly licensed to carry no more than 100 arms. Additionally, reports indicate that at least 59 of the guns found had no legible serial numbers. According to statements of crew aboard the Avant Garde, the weapons were intended for transfer to the commercial security firm Rakna Lanka Limited.

On November 5, Rakna Lanka’s representatives, along with several senior defense officals, were called to testify before a presidential commission on fraud. The commission is examining the firm’s finances and arms transactions.

Opposition members of parliament claim that the current government is doing too little in its investigation in order to shield AGMS and others from corruption charges.

The arms transfer appears to confirm industry observers’ concerns that arms stored aboard floating armories could be sold off under murky circumstances. As piracy is declining in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, demand for maritime security services is on the wane, and it is expected that many security companies’ assets will be liquidated.

The Avant Garde is not the only AGMS vessel under investigation. The armory shipMahanuwara was boarded by Sri Lankan police early in 2015; they found 3000 unregistered firearms aboard. A court ruling on October 22 paved the way for a full investigation of theMahanuwara to begin.

Prior to arrival in Galle, the Avant Garde was stationed in the Red Sea. It is one of three armory vessels owned by AGMS.

Posted November 7, 2015 by rrts in -NEWS