Archive for October 2017

Nigeria Reinforces Ban on Embarked Security Contractors   1 comment

File image

By MarEx 

In 2008-2012, when Somali pirates began increasing the frequency of their attacks in the Gulf of Aden, shipowners relied on a combination of hardening measures, multinational naval patrols and embarked private maritime security contractors (PMSCs) to counter the threat. This multifaceted response eliminated successful pirate attacks off Somalia for five years. But in the waters off Nigeria, where hijackings are a longstanding problem, shipowners may not have legal access to embarked PMSCs to counter the risk of piracy, despite advocacy by industry representatives.

According to security analysts Risk Intelligence, Nigeria’s navy recently reinforced its longstanding policy against embarked PMSCs. Earlier this month, Rear Adm. Raphael Osondo, the head of standards and transformation for the Nigerian Navy Operations Directorate, made clear that:

– Armed guards of any kind – hired contractors, police or military forces – are not allowed on merchant vessels in Nigerian waters. In particular, “no private security company has the right to place armed guards on board merchant vessels,” Risk Intelligence reports. (News outlet AfricaPorts adds that any vessel found with armed guards on board will be detained; if the guards are from the Nigerian Navy, they will face sanctions.)

– As an alternative to embarked PMSCs, the Nigerian Navy supports contracted maritime security services through a network of 20 licensed escort vessel operators. These hired patrol vessels are manned and commanded by Nigerian Navy personnel, with assistance from civilian seafarers.

The reinforced restrictions on embarked PMSCs were announced shortly before a series of attacks on merchant vessels in international waters off Nigeria. On October 20, a speedboat approached a vessel 50 nm south of Port Harcourt and opened fire with small arms before departing. The next day, the container ship Demeter was attacked and boarded in the same area, and six of her crew were kidnapped, including the master and chief mate. The Demeter’s remaining crew navigated the vessel to safety, and her owners are attempting to secure the release of the abducted seafarers.

Shipowners call for access to PMSCs

In order to combat the long-standing piracy threat in the Gulf of Guinea, the European Community Shipowners Association (ECSA) has called for agreements that would permit EU-flagged vessels to carry armed contractors in the region. “As the use of armed guards in the territorial waters of the Gulf of Guinea littoral states is not permitted due to national legal restrictions, initiatives should be undertaken to explore possibilities for the conclusion of an agreement between the E.U. and its member states with the Gulf of Guinea littoral states aiming at the permission of the use of private security guards by E.U.-flagged vessels calling at their ports,” ECSA said in a statement earlier this year.

In addition, ECSA called for EU member states to contribute to security efforts in international waters in the Gulf of Guinea and to “coordinate the deployment of naval vessels” – a strategy that has proved effective off Somalia, where foreign forces (in particular, Chinese and Indian forces) have defeated multiple hijacking attempts in recent months. ECSA also asked that EU trade negotiations be linked with measures on maritime security as an “integrated part that enables trade.”

Posted October 30, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Nigerian Pirates Kidnap Six Boxship Crewmembers   1 comment

fileFile image

By MarEx 

At 0600 on Saturday morning, eight pirates boarded the 3,000 TEU container ship Demeter at a position 40 nm south of Bonny Island, Nigeria. The attackers took six crewmembers hostage. All 12 remaining members of her crew are unharmed, and they navigated their vessel to safety, according to a statement from the ship manager.

The kidnapping victims include the Demeter’s cook, bosun, second engineer, second officer, captain and chief mate. Efforts to secure their release continue, and the vessel’s flag state and owner are participating.

The IMB ICC recorded 20 successful pirate attacks in waters off Nigeria for the nine months ending in September. Almost all of them occurred while the vessel was under way, and the attackers’ objectives frequently included kidnapping. In all, 39 crewmembers were victims of an attempted or successful kidnapping off Nigeria during the year through September. “Pirates / robbers are often well armed, violent and have [hijacked, robbed, kidnapped and injured] crews along the coast . . . [and] in the past, attacks have been reported up to 170 nm from the coast,” IMB warns. “Generally, all waters in / off Nigeria remain risky.”

Stowaways menace cargo ship crew

On Saturday, the Uruguayan Navy received a distress call from the master of the bulker Friederike, which was arriving in South American waters on a voyage from Lagos, Nigeria. The Friederike had departed Lagos with four Nigerian stowaways on board, and according to local outlet Montevideo Portal, they mutinied during the voyage and threatened the crew. The navy dispatched the frigate Uruguay with a detachment of marines to respond to the situation, and they were able to resolve the disturbance and return control of the vessel to her master. The stowaways will be transferred to police custody.

Posted October 30, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

IMB: Piracy Declines in First Nine Months of 2017   1 comment

arisSuspected pirates apprehended by the Indian Navy warship Trishul, October 2017 (Indian Navy)

By MarEx 

In its third quarter report, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported a total of 121 recorded incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery for the year to date, an improvement over last year’s numbers and a significant decline relative to the average over the past five years.

The attacks included five hijackings, 11 attempted boardings, 13 vessels fired upon, and 92 boardings. The Gulf of Guinea remains a hot spot for attacks, representing about one sixth of the total, along with Somalia and Southeast Asia.  But a cluster of boardings off Libya and armed robberies at anchorages in Venezuela highlight the need for vigilance in other parts of the world.

Some areas have shown major improvements. The waters off Indonesia had only 23 attacks from 86 in the same period in 2015. Piracy in the Strait of Malacca essentially stopped last year, due to strengthened naval patrols, and the hijackings and kidnappings by Abu Sayyaf militants in the Sulu Sea have ceased, thanks to the efforts of the Philippine military.

Others are still quite dangerous. The waters off Nigeria remain particularly risky, especially off Bayelsa / Bonny Island / Port Harcourt, where the number of reported hijackings and kidnappings has been on the rise. IMB noted that many more attacks may have gone unreported, and vessels should exercise particular caution when transiting this region.

Off Somalia, armed attacks have resumed, though allied naval forces have had considerable success in recent months in deterring or interdicting hijacking attempts. However, the area remains hazardous, IMB cautioned. “The threat of these attacks still exists in the waters off . . .  Bab el Bandeb, Gulf of Aden . . . Arabian Sea off Oman, Gulf of Oman and off the eastern and southern Somali coast,” IMB wrote. “Somali pirates tend to be well-armed with automatic weapons and RPG[s] and sometimes use skiffs launched from mother  vessels . . . to conduct attacks far from the Somali coast.”

Posted October 30, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Indian Navy Rescues Bulker from Pirates   1 comment

trisIndian and EUNAVFOR commandos aboard the Trishul, Oct. 4 (EUNAVFOR). Photos below courtesy Indian Navy.

By MarEx 

On Friday, the Indian Navy patrol vessel INS Trishul saved the crew of the Indian bulker Jag Amar from a pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden.

On Friday, the Jag Amar was under way on a voyage from Romania to Jubail, Saudi Arabia. At 1230 hours, a group of 12 suspected pirates in a skiff approached, and her crew put out a distress call. The Trishul, which is deployed on an anti-piracy patrol in the region, responded to the scene. Indian Navy “MARCOS” commandos from the Trishul rescued the crew and confiscated equipment from the pirates, including an AK-47, one loaded magazine, grapnels, fuel drums, ropes and ladders – common equipment for boarding attempts.

The successful operation was the Indian Navy’s third anti-piracy engagement in the Gulf of Aden in six months. In May, the INS Sharda foiled an attack on the bulker Lord Mountbatten, and in April, Chinese and Indian forces cooperated to free the crew of the bulker OS 35 off Yemen.

Two days before Friday’s engagement, Trishul wrapped up a series of exercises with EU NAVFOR, the European Union’s anti-piracy mission in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. On October 4, the Italian flagship ITS Fasan – the at-sea headquarters of EU NAVFOR – conducted joint manoeuvers with the Trishul off the coast of Galmadug, Somalia. The crew of INS Trishul welcomed EU NAVFOR’s leaders on board, and the Indian and Italian crews practiced drills for boarding operations, ship handling and communications exercises.

Indian and EUNAVFOR officers aboard the Trishul, Oct. 4

Posted October 17, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS