Archive for July 2016

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Posted July 30, 2016 by rrts in -NEWS

ReCAAP Issues Advisory on Abu Sayyaf Kidnappings   1 comment

PiratesFile image

By MarEx

ReCAAP has issued a special update report and advisory regarding the recent spate of kidnappings off of Sabah, Malaysia.

Since March, there have been six reported kidnapping incidents off Sabah involving five tugs and one trawler, one to two per month, ReCAAP said. Of 33 crewmembers abducted so far this year, 15 remain in captivity.

ReCAAP observed that the attacks fit a consistent pattern: first, slow-moving small vessels with low freeboard, making two or three knots, make for an attractive and easy target. Second, daylight hours facilitate boarding, and most incidents occurred in the middle of the day. Third, the attackers work in groups of five or more – and in one instance, more than a dozen pirates were involved. Fourth, all instances involved armed attackers and in two cases the pirates opened fire, suggesting that resistance may be dangerous. Fifth, crew were abducted but not generally harmed (with one notable exception in which a crewmember was shot). Lastly, the crew appear to be the primary target, with theft of equipment or personal effects a secondary objective.

To address the problem, government officials from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have held several meetings on regional security cooperation. ReCAAP itself says that it is working closely with the Philippine Coast Guard is sharing best practices with the industry.

The agency’s best practices advisory includes the following for vessels intending to transit the affected area:

• Conduct a risk assessment
• Reroute and avoid area if feasible
• Enhance vigilance and increase security watch rotations
• Report to Philippine Coast Guard’s Operations Centre when transiting the area
• Maintain a continuous watch on advisories issued on NAVTEX
• Report all incidents in accordance with the IMO circular MSC.1/Circ.1334
• Maintain continuous communication with shipping company and enforcement agencies
• If attacked, avoid confrontation with the perpetrators

ReCAAP also advises operators to refer to its website at www.recaap.org for future updates.

Posted July 30, 2016 by rrts in -NEWS

Tug Operator Blamed for Abu Sayyaf Hijacking   Leave a comment

AbuAbu Sayyaf Group members (file image)

By MarEx 

On Tuesday, Malaysia’s inspector-general of police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Baka said at a press conference that the most recent Abu Sayyaf tug crew kidnapping off of Sabah was the fault of the tug’s operator, which he alleged had not followed official guidance.

He emphasized that he did not mean to blame the victims of the attack, but rather the operator. “I hold them responsible because we have engaged with them and advised them what they should be doing.‎ But they did not heed our calls‎,” he said.

Khalid added that he believed there were other operators who were not treating the matter with enough seriousness. “Unfortunately, they take the matter too lightly,” he said. “The east coast of Sabah has always been our concern. Not only from [Abu Sayyaf] but also kidnap for ransom groups and other terror groups.”

He called for all tug operators to heed the police’s precautions. “I ask those we have had discussions with to follow our advice so that such incidents can be avoided. If they do not follow our advice, the risk is very high,” he said.

The missing crew of the Malaysian-owned tug have been identified as Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 32, Abd Rahim Summas, 62, Mohd Jumadil Rahim, 23, Fandy Bakran, 26 and Tayudin Anjut, 45.

Just across the border, Indonesian authorities have issued a ban on Philippines-bound departures from the most affected areas, but industry sources say that the restriction can be circumvented. “There have been leakages. Philippines are still getting their coal from many parts of Indonesia, for example from Kalimantan and other places. This is done outside the knowledge of the authorities,” said Budhi Halim, Secretary-General of the Indonesian National Shipowners Association, speaking to Channel NewsAsia last week.

Separately, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has confirmed that seven Indonesian tugboat crewmembers were kidnapped by pirates allied with Abu Sayyaf on July 22 – yet another in a string of attacks on the slow-moving tugs that haul coal from Kalimantan to the Philippines. Six of the 13 crewmembers were freed right away, but the others were not so lucky. The attackers were identified as the serial kidnappers the Muktadil brothers.

Posted July 30, 2016 by rrts in -NEWS

IMB: Piracy at Lowest Level in Two Decades   Leave a comment

PiratesFile image

By MarEx 

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre released good news on Monday: attacks in the first half of 2016 are at the lowest level since 1995, even taking the recent spate of kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea and the Sulu Sea into account.

The center’s data shows 98 attacks through the end of June, down from 134 in the same period last year. Annualized, these numbers are well below the values recorded in 2003 and 2010, the most recent peak years.

The attacks in the first half included 72 boardings, five hijackings and 12 attempts, with nine ships fired on and 64 crewmembers taken hostage.

Pottengal Mukundan, the center’s director, said that the news was encouraging but ships need to remain vigilant in high-risk areas like the Gulf of Guinea and waters near Somalia.

(Reinforcing his point, the IMB posted notice of an attack on a cable laying vessel conducting operations in the Red Sea. Sixteen pirates approached in a skiff and opened fire on the slow-moving ship. An embarked armed security team returned fire, driving off the would-be attackers.)

The center noted encouraging improvements in Indonesia, where new, more secure designated anchorages have helped to cut down on petty crime – reducing it by half from the same period last year – and the Navy has shown diligence in combating more serious acts of piracy. IMB said that the swift resolution to the hijacking of the product tanker Hai Soon 12 in May was a great example of robust enforcement, and sent a strong message to other criminals.

The mid-year report also has some bad news. Kidnappings are on the rise, especially off Nigeria. “In the Gulf of Guinea, rather than oil tankers being hijacked for their cargo, there is an increasing number of incidents of crew being kidnapped for ransom,” said Captain Mukundan.

Posted July 30, 2016 by rrts in -NEWS

Merchant Vessel Attacked in Red Sea, shots fired   1 comment

A merchant ship was attacked in position 133812N 0423924E at 220456ZJUL16.  Occupants of skiff fired shots at MV and MV’s Armed Security Team fired warning shots in return. MV is safe.

Vessels transiting the area are advised to exercise extreme caution.

UKMTO Watchkeeper
Email: watchkeepers@ukmto.org
Emergency Tel: +971 5055 23215
Tel: +442392222060
Fax: +971(0)43094254

Chart courtesy if NYA International

Posted July 25, 2016 by rrts in -NEWS

Abu Sayyaf Responsible for Latest Tug Crew Kidnapping   1 comment

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Abu Sayyaf Group members (file video frame)

By MarEx 

On July 20, top Malaysian police commander Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed that the five missing crewmembers of a tug found abandoned off of Sabah had been kidnapped by a group linked to Abu Sayyaf. The statement confirmed an earlier announcement by Philippine government spokesman Jesus Dureza.

Bakar would not provide details, but sources in the Philippines told the Malaysian Star that the men responsible were the well-known kidnappers the Muktadir brothers, working together with Abu Sayyaf sub-commander Al Habsi Misaya.

The wife of one of the crewmembers, Tayudin Anjut, told reporters that the kidnappers had made a demand for a $4 million ransom. The other four abductees are Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 32; Abdul Rahim Summas, 62; Mohamad Jumadil Rahim, 23; and Fandy Bakran, 26.

Malaysian deputy home minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed told media that the government was in negotiations with the militant group to secure the men’s release.

Abu Sayyaf has kidnapped the crews of multiple tugboats this year; many slow-moving tugs hauling coal barges pass through the strait between the Abu Sayyaf stronghold of Tawi-Tawi and the Malaysian state of Sabah, the southern entrance to the Sulu Sea. In April, Indonesian officials suggested that the shipments would be suspended, but the nation’s coal mining industry is heavily opposed to an export ban and insiders suggest that the prohibition has not had an effect.

“There have been leakages. Philippines are still getting their coal from many parts of Indonesia, for example from Kalimantan and other places. This is done outside the knowledge of the authorities,” said Budhi Halim, Secretary-General of the Indonesian National Shipowners Association, speaking to Channel NewsAsia.

Separately, on Thursday, newly elected Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte told army units fighting Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao that he supported them in their campaign, and would “take the cudgels” for them if they “face cases due to such lawful performance” of their duties.

“I am with you in the punitive and law enforcement action against the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group,” he said, according to Brigadier General Restituto Padilla.

Duterte also made conciliatory remarks: “I don’t see anything good coming out of this war. For the sake of our children, we have to stop this war,” he said, in an audio recording obtained by the Inquirer.

Duterte has persistently shrugged off concerns about human rights in the pursuit of law and order; he campaigned on a pledge to kill 100,000 criminals, and he has exhorted police forces and citizens to use deadly force against suspected drug dealers. “Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun, you have my support,” he said in a televised address following the election.

Posted July 23, 2016 by rrts in -NEWS

Asian Piracy Incidents Drop to Four-Year Low   1 comment

piracy

By MarEx 

The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) has issued its half yearly report saying there has been an improvement in the piracy and armed robbery situation in Asia.

The period January to June saw the largest decrease in number of incidents compared to the same period in the past four years of 2012-2015. The number of incidents reported decreased by 64 percent compared to the same period in 2015, with only 41 incidents reported compared to 114 in 2015.

The decline in incidents was most evident in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, where one incident was reported compared to 55 incidents during the same period in 2015. Two incidents involved hijacking of tankers for oil cargo theft compared to 10 during the same period in 2015.

Four incidents in the first half of the year involved the abduction of crew from tug boats, namely Brahma 12, Massive 6, Henry and Charles 00 in waters off Eastern Sabah and Southern Philippines. These incidents, along with another seven, involved the crews being physically mistreated.

Of the 41 incidents reported during January to June 2016, 30 incidents occurred on board ships while at anchor/berth and 11 incidents on board ships while underway.

The situation at most ports and anchorages in Asia has improved this year except at certain locations in India and Indonesia. More than three-quarters of the 30 incidents reported at ports and anchorages occurred in Indonesia (Belawan, Pulau Batam, Samarinda, Semarang, Tanjung Priok) and India (Haldia, Kandla and Visakhapatnam). The remaining incidents occurred in Vietnam (Hon Cam, Hon Gai, Vung Tau), China (Longkou, Tianjin), Philippines (Batangas) and SCS (off Pulau Bintan).

ReCAAP ISC urges the littoral states to step up surveillance and the shipping industry to adopt appropriate preventive measures.

The report is available here.

Posted July 23, 2016 by rrts in -NEWS