Archive for January 2018

Ships at Risk from Sea Mines Near Yemen   1 comment

file photo: Yemeni soldiers
file photo: Yemeni soldiers


In response to the threats arising from the conflict in Yemen, BIMCO, ICS and INTERTANKO have published interim guidance on maritime security in the southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb. Shipowners and operators should be aware of new threats in the area, say the organizations. The European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) and the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) have advised that a range of threats other than piracy, such as sea mines and water-borne improvised explosive devices (WBIEDs), are potential risks in the area.


Missiles are long range, accurate and powerful weapons and have been used against military ships in the region. There is no indication that merchant shipping is likely to be deliberately targeted, but there is the risk of misidentification or collateral damage to merchant shipping.

Sea Mines

Sea mines have been used to deter and deny Saudi-led coalition forces access to key ports in Yemen’s southern Red Sea area. Whilst merchant shipping is not the target, sea mines may affect commercial ships using these ports or routeing close to the Yemeni Coastline.

Water-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (WBIED)

An attack involving a WBIED is likely to involve one or more skiffs approaching the merchant ship at high speed firing both small arms and Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs). One or more of the boats may be laden with explosives. On the basis of current understanding it is assessed that merchant shipping is unlikely to be directly targeted by a WBIED, however the risk of collateral damage or misidentification remains.


WBIED attacks have been used against Saudi coalition warships and associated assets such as military supply ships in the southern Red Sea. The MV Muskie (May 31, 2017) and MV Galicia Spirit (October 25, 2016) incidents, which took place in the southern approaches to the Bab al-Mandeb (BAM), highlight a non-piracy attack by groups operating in Southern Yemen. In these incidents there was an explosion during the approach and, likely attempted boarding respectively. This tactic marked a significant departure from Somali piracy and, other incidents associated with the Yemen conflict, and as such the likely intent and perpetrators are not clear.

Two separate incidents on January 6, 2018 approximately 45 nautical miles off the port of Al Hudaydah, Yemen, involved suspicious approaches to two merchant ships by two speed boats carrying armed personnel with optical equipment and one unmanned boat. After the merchant ships undertook evasive action, the speed boats broke off their approach. The speed boats subsequently approached a tanker under escort and the escort vessel engaged the speed boats and destroyed the unmanned vessel.


The guidance stresses the importance of using the Maritime Security Transit Corridor, registration with MSCHOA and reporting to UKMTO, as well as reviewing and updating risk assessments and plans to include these new threats. The guidance also includes advice specific to identified threat types, including WBIEDs and complements the guidance provided in BMP 4.

The Interim Guidance on Maritime Security in the Southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb is available on the BIMCO, ICS and INTERTANKO websites.

Posted January 27, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS



Posted January 25, 2018 by rrts in -TRAINING



Posted January 25, 2018 by rrts in -TRAINING

Abu Sayyaf Frees Two Kidnapping Victims   1 comment



Two Indonesian fishermen who were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf group in 2016 have been released and have returned home.

The abductees, La Utu Bin La Raali and La Hadi La Edi, were returned to the governor of Sulu on Friday evening, according to the Philippine military. A”concerned citizen” made the hand-off, and the governor indicated that he did have information about how or why the victims were released.

The two fishermen were debriefed by Philippine forces over the weekend, then transferred to the Indonesian consulate in Davao. They flew back to Indonesia on Tuesday, and Indonesia’s ministry of foreign affairs provided transportation for their wives in order for them all to be reunited upon their return.

“The release symbolizes the harmonious partnership among related government institutions, especially the [Indonesian National Armed Force] and [National Intelligence Agency],” said Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi in a statement.

On November 5, 2016, the two fishermen were working off the town of Kertam, Sabah province, Malaysia when they were abducted by Abu Sayyaf. The same weekend, Abu Sayyaf affiliates boarded a yacht in Tawi-Tawi, killing one member of the crew and abducting another. The group later killed the abductee – German national Juergen Kantner – after his ransom went unpaid.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines estimates that Abu Sayyaf still has about a dozen hostages, including foreign citizens. Over the past year, the group’s criminal activity has been greatly reduced by a large-scale Philippine military operation, which has killed many Abu Sayyaf militants and destroyed their bases of operation on Sulu and Basilan.

[Top image: Abu Sayyaf members in a video still]

Posted January 25, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

Guards Repel Pirate Attack on Cement Carrier   1 comment



On Sunday, embarked maritime security contractors aboard a bulker repelled a pirate attack in the high-risk area off Somalia.

According to maritime security firm LSS-SAPU, the cement carrier NACC Valbella was transiting 90 nm south of Mukallah, Yemen when it was approached by a pirate mother ship. The LSS security unit on board the Valbella lit warning flares, in keeping with their rules of engagement, then fired warning shots. The attacking vessel opened fire, and the guards fired another volley of warning shots. The pirates then abandoned their attack and veered away. The Valbella did not suffer material damage and no injuries were reported.

Somali pirates repatriated

On Friday, Indian authorities deported 41 Somali pirates who were arrested in Indian waters in 2011. The Somali government arranged a charter flight to bring them back to their homeland.

The convicted pirates were among a group of 120 Somalis arrested during the peak of the East Africa piracy epidemic. Most of them were captured by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard off the Lakshadweep Islands, over 1,000 nm to the east of Somali waters. In a series of actions from January to March 2011, Indian units deterred ongoing attacks on the region’s merchant shipping, capturing scores of pirates and freeing more than 50 hostages aboard pirate mother ships.

These pirates were taken to the Indian mainland and imprisoned pending trial. Three died in jail, and last year, the remaining 117 suspects were sentenced to time served followed by deportation. All are scheduled to be sent back to Somalia by the end of next month. “Another 76 will be released in two batches on February 15 and 23 and will be sent back to their home country,” said lawyer Vishwajeet Singh, their appointed representative, speaking to the Mumbai Mirror.

“The offenders have been given a lesson that in India there is rule of law and that the offenders are brought to justice,” special public prosecutor Ranjeet Sangle told the Times of India at the time of the sentencing. “From 2011, since the pirates were arrested, the entire piracy operation in the western waters of India has come down.”

[Top image: Position of the attack on the Valbella, LSS-SAPU]

Posted January 25, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

Crew of Hijacked Product Tanker Released   1 comment



Tanker operator Union Maritime reported Wednesday that the product tanker Barrett has been safely recovered from hijackers off Benin, West Africa.

“Union Maritime can confirm that the MT Barrett has been released after a Gulf of Guinea piracy incident lasting six days. All crew are safe. We are extremely grateful to the many parties that assisted in achieving the successful resolution of this incident,” the firm said in a statement.

The Barrett was at anchor off Benin on January 10 when communications were lost. Union Maritime activated a response plan and alerted the authorities, but the nature of the incident was not clear until January 12, when the hijackers made first contact. Union Maritime said that a “resolution process” ultimately led to the release of the vessel and her crew on January 16. She is now at anchor off Lagos.

Piracy is a common occurrence in the Gulf of Guinea, where criminal groups based in the Niger Delta have the capability to raid shipping far out to sea. Armed robbery is also a frequent problem; in the latest instance, on January 15, the crew of an anchored tanker off Lagos noticed an unauthorized boarding in progress. They raised the alarm, sounded the ship’s whistle continuously, switched on all lights and directed their search lights towards the robbers. The suspects aborted the boarding and left the ship.

Niger Delta Avengers threaten new attacks

On Wednesday, the militant group known as the Niger Delta Avengers threatened new attacks on oil installations in the Gulf of Guinea. The targets include facilities operated by multinational oil companies, including Bonga Platform, the Agbami FPSO, the EA Field and Akpo Field, along with unspecified assets of the Nigerian firm Brittania-U.

“We mean it when we say [the oil installations] shall dance to the sound of the fury of the Niger Delta Avengers,” the group threatened. “Good a thing the ocean is wide enough to accommodate as many wreck as possible [sic].”

The Avengers said that recent civil strife in Nigeria makes this an ideal time for reform, and its main demand “is for the government to ‘restructure this country.'” In the past, the group has also demanded a greater share of Nigeria’s oil revenues.

The Niger Delta Avengers have had success in striking offshore facilities before. In May 2016, they attacked a Chevron platform off the Escravos Bar, leading to a shut-in and a spill. In October of the same year, the Avengers announced that they had suspended further attacks; however, they rescinded this yearlong ceasefire in November 2017.

Posted January 19, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

Piracy Reaches Twenty-Two-Year Low   1 comment




The International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reports 180 piracy incidents in 2017, the lowest annual number of incidents since 1995, when 188 reports were received.

In 2017, 136 vessels were boarded, while there were 22 attempted attacks, 16 vessels fired upon and six vessels hijacked. In 15 separate incidents, 91 crewmembers were taken hostage and 75 were kidnapped from their vessels in 13 other incidents. Three crewmembers were killed in 2017 and six injured.

In 2016, a total of 191 incidents were reported, with 150 vessels boarded and 151 crewmembers taken hostage.

Beyond the global figures, the Bureau’s 2017 report underlined several key points:

Persistent danger in the Gulf of Guinea

In 2017, there were 36 reported incidents with no vessels hijacked in this area and 10 incidents of kidnapping involving 65 crewmembers in or around Nigerian waters. Globally 16 vessels reported being fired upon – including seven in the Gulf of Guinea.

“Although the number of attacks is down this year in comparison with last year, the Gulf of Guinea and the waters around Nigeria remain a threat to seafarers. The Nigerian authorities have intervened in a number of incidents helping to prevent incidents from escalating,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB.

Somali pirates

Nine incidents were recorded off Somalia in 2017, up from two in 2016. In November, a container ship was attacked by armed pirates approximately 280 nautical miles east of Mogadishu. The pirates, unable to board the vessel due to the ship’s evasive maneuvering fired two RPG rockets, both of which missed, before retreating.

Six Somali pirates were subsequently detained by European Union Naval Force, transferred to the Seychelles and charged with “committing an act of piracy” where they face up to 30 years’ imprisonment, if convicted.

“This dramatic incident, alongside our 2017 figures, demonstrates that Somali pirates retain the capability and intent to launch attacks against merchant vessels hundreds of miles from their coastline,” said Mukundan.

Mixed results in Southeast Asia

Indonesia recorded 43 incidents in 2017, down from 49 in 2016. The IMB report notes that Indonesian Marine Police patrols continue to be effective in the country’s 10 designated safe anchorages.

In the Philippines, however, the number of reported incidents has more than doubled, from 10 in 2016 to 22 in 2017. According to the report, the majority of these incidents were low-level attacks on anchored vessels, mainly at the ports of Manila and Batangas. Vessels underway off the Southern Philippines were boarded and crew kidnapped in the first quarter of 2017. However, alerts broadcast by the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre, on behalf of the Philippine authorities, have since helped to avoid further successful attacks.

Posted January 10, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS