Archive for May 2018

Somali Pirates – Surviving a Pirate Attack   1 comment

Posted May 28, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

EU NAVFOR delivers piracy threat assessment at launch of the 2017 OBP report   1 comment


Understanding piracy and armed robbery of vessels is essential in maintaining maritime security. In addition, quantifying the economic and human costs of piracy is important in comprehending the true impact of piracy and robbery at sea.

EU NAVFOR now lies at the centre of a complex network of organisations and partnerships who must work together to ensure piracy remains repressed off the Somali coast. At the 2017 OBP report launch held in London on 23rd May, EU NAVFOR personnel presented their assessment and military analysis of the piracy threat that exists off the Horn of Africa, but also outlined other threat areas that have emerged and emphasised the need for vigilance and adherence to industry agreed protection measures that can help protect seafarers.

Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent, Senior fellow to the OBP organisation chaired the event and said, “Even though the focus today was on piracy around the world, it has become very apparent how inter-connected it is to land based violence and criminal activity”.

Donald “Larry” Sampler, President of One Earth Future organisation closed the event, saying: “I am always astounded how even in 2018, we generate so much international interest on the topic of piracy and how there is so much positive energy from the people involved here today in working out how we can all work together and keep it repressed”.

The 2017 OBP report looks at the effects of piracy and criminal activity across the world and highlights the economic and human cost to world trade. In summary, the report states that the annual cost of Somali-borne piracy shrank slightly last year from $1.7 to $1.4bn. The estimated naval costs fell from approximately $230 to $200M and some 1100 seafarers were in some way affected by maritime security events. The 2017 headlines and link to the full report is found here:

Posted May 27, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

Report: Piracy Threat Continues off East and West Africa   1 comment

Interdiction off Somalia (EUNAVFOR)


On Wednesday, Oceans Beyond Piracy released its review for 2017, and the numbers show that pirate attacks remain a serious threat off the Horn of Africa, the coast of Latin America and in the Gulf of Guinea.

Off the coast of East Africa, the number of pirate attacks in 2017 was double the number the year before. “Pirate activity in 2017 clearly demonstrates that pirate groups retain their ability to organize and implement attacks against ships transiting the region,” said Maisie Pigeon, the report’s lead author.

In addition, the high rate of piracy and maritime kidnapping in the Gulf of Guinea continues unabated. “Kidnap-for-ransom continues to plague the region, which is a trend that has unfortunately continued from 2016,” said Pigeon. 100 seafarers were taken hostage, including 90 who were held for longer than one day and at least two who were killed. Fully 1,726 seafarers were affected by piracy in 97 incidents in the region, including 21 kidnappings and one hijacking for cargo theft.

The continued impact of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea comes despite millions in additional funding for maritime security and naval patrols. The rate of law enforcement response to attacks rose by 27 percent, but authorities arrived to prevent a theft or kidnapping in only one case out of 97 for the year.

The legal framework for deterring Gulf of Guinea piracy is also somewhat thin, OBP reported. The alleged pirates arrested for the MT Maximus attack in 2016 were charged in November, but Nigeria lacks a criminal law for piracy, and charges had to be limited to related offenses. OBP called for Nigeria’s legal frameworks to be strengthened to support deterrence and enforcement.

In Asia, the threat of piracy and maritime kidnapping receded in 2017 compared with the year before. 2016 saw 22 kidnapping cases, driven in large part by the activities of the Abu Sayyaf group off Sabah, Malaysia. An increased law enforcement presence helped drive down the incidence rate of piracy in the region by 23 percent, OBP said, and kidnappings fell to a total of just four incidents.

Maritime crime is on the rise in Latin America and in the Caribbean as well, OBP warned – particularly at anchorages off poverty-stricken Venezuela, and particularly for anchored yachts.  OBP recorded 71 attacks this year, primarily robberies, compared with just 27 last year. Over 850 seafarers were exposed to risk from these illegal boardings, and two lost their lives.

Posted May 25, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

Piracy: Human Rights and Wrongs   1 comment



Dr. Sofia Galani, Lecturer in Law at the University of Bristol and a Non-Executive Board of Advisors member of Human Rights at Sea gave a short interview on piracy to the Navigate Response, a global crisis communications network specializing in the international shipping, port and offshore industries:

How have attitudes to human rights at sea changed over time regarding piracy?

Piracy and counter-piracy responses have had a tremendous impact on human rights both for those suspected of piracy and for seafarers. Maritime enforcement operations and the subsequent prosecutions and trials alerted the international community to the human rights abuses suspects of piracy might face.

Although it took more time for the human rights of seafarers attacked or kidnapped by pirates to attract attention, the human cost of piracy is now an important part of the human rights at sea debate. The hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing their countries on board unseaworthy boats and the increasing reports of slavery and abuses of seafarers and fishermen have also played a significant role in our current understanding of human rights at sea …It is high time that human rights at sea were effectively recognized and protected.

Regarding piracy, how are human rights affected between regions?

Different piracy models and bespoke counter-piracy mechanisms might affect human rights at sea differently in the various regions. The regional or international character of counter-piracy operations, for example, have a different impact on the human rights of piracy suspects. While the rights to life, liberty, fair trial and freedom from torture of all piracy suspects can be interfered with, Somalis have been at a more disadvantaged position. Somalis are often transferred to third states, where they have no ties, to be tried and prosecuted. They often have no contact with their families or face inconsistent punishments depending on domestic law.

The human rights of seafarers can be similarly impacted. In all regions prone to piracy, seafarers are exposed to mental and physical abuse by pirates. In Africa, where kidnap for ransom is more common, seafarers might also face prolonged captivity and other forms of ill treatment, whereas injuries and murders are more common in the South China Sea and the Caribbean, where pirates try to seize the vessel or steal valuable cargo.

What are your views on shipowners adopting protective measures, such as armed security?

During the upsurge of piracy in Somalia, the shipping industry was heavily criticized for failing to protect vessels against pirate attacks. However, over the years, shipowners/managers have invested significant amounts of money in vessel protection, including in armed security. Despite their controversial nature, armed security guards have significantly contributed to the protection of vessels against piracy. The high cost of these measures, however, has meant smaller shipping companies have not always been willing, or able, to continue investing in protective measures, leaving seafarers exposed to piracy threats.

Do the media act responsibly when reporting piracy incidents?

Media reporting is helpful, as it raises awareness of piracy and kidnapping. Nevertheless, a few incidents are covered and these are chosen mainly because of their economic or human cost. This sporadic coverage fails to provide a holistic and comprehensive picture of piracy. In addition, inaccurate reporting can further undermine our understanding of piracy and its root causes. The media often present pirates as criminals driven by their greed for money. However, the realities of piracy are much more complex. Only when we understand the root causes of piracy, we will be able to provide long-term solutions.

What are the future challenges with regards to human rights at sea?

Some of the most significant challenges in protecting human rights at sea include the lack of reporting and maritime enforcement. Reporting and investigating human rights abuses while at sea is challenging. As a result, human rights violations often go unreported and unpunished. In addition, while the International Law of the Sea provides a legal basis for stop and search and inspections of vessels for various criminal activities at sea, maritime enforcement operations for human rights abuses on board vessels are not permitted.

To address these gaps, flag states, coastal states and the shipping industry have to work together towards improving the human and labor standards on board vessels as well as making available reporting mechanisms and remedies for victims of human rights violations at sea.

Source: Navigate Response

Posted May 22, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

ReCAAP: Impending Pirate Attack off Sabah   1 comment

Members of the Abu Sayyaf Group in an undated video still (file image)


Piracy reporting center ReCAAP has issued a warning for the waters off Lahad Datu, Malaysia, advising mariners of a heightened risk of attack.

In an unusual advance notice to shipping, ReCAAP relayed detailed intelligence about a specific band of suspected pirates who are believed to be making plans for a kidnapping attempt. According to ReCAAP, members of the Abu Sayyaf group – a terrorist organization with a history of maritime hijackings and kidnappings – are planning to get under way for a known high risk area off Sabah within the next 24 hours. The report suggests that the gang will be using a blue speedboat with three engines.

Illustration courtesy Asket / Twitter

The advisory recommends that mariners should exercise “extreme caution” if transiting off Lahad Datu.

Abu Sayyaf staged 17 successful attacks on vessels off Sabah between April 2016 and April 2017, but it has not been able to complete an attempt in twelve months, according to STRATFOR. A multinational maritime security effort has prevented the pirates from executing further hijackings, but that does not mean that the risk has disappeared, the security consultancy warns: Abu Sayyaf pirates continue to monitor shipping and pursue opportunities for kidnappings. In addition, the group is still holding some of the mariners it captured during its period of peak activity.

While the Armed Forces of the Philippines have made strides in their campaign to drive Abu Sayyaf out of the Sulu Archipelago, the group’s gangs still have a limited capacity for guerilla warfare. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has promised that “he will not stop running after the Abu Sayyaf” until the group “is wiped out,” according to spokesman Harry Roque.

Posted May 5, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

16 Missing in Pirate Attack off Suriname   1 comment

File image


Suriname’s Coast Guard reported Monday that 16 fishermen are missing after an aggressive pirate attack on four boats.

According to spokesman Commander Jerry Slijngard, a group of 20 fishermen were assaulted off Suriname’s coast on Friday night. The pirates beat and robbed them, then forced most of them over the side. The survivors reported that some of the victims went into the water with weights on their legs.

Three out of the four men who managed to escape are still receiving medical attention, according to Slijngard. Local media report that two were pulled from the water by other fishing vessels and two were found in their boats.

According to local outlet Kaieteur News, the captain of one of the fishing boats identified four Guyanese nationals as the attackers, all of them known to the fishermen. He said that they fired warning shots, then boarded his boat and assaulted his crew. He was ordered over the side and managed to swim away.

Mark Lall, the secretary of a local fishing collective, said that almost no one was willing to go out to fish for fear of another pirate attack. He suggested that it was not the first time that multiple boats have been attacked at once. However, while fishermen from Suriname and Guyana often accuse each other of piracy, an attack this extreme is an unusual event.

To deter future attacks, Cmdr. Slijngard called for the rapid rollout of Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) technology in Suriname. VMS is a protocol similar to AIS, but designed specifically for fisheries enforcement. It includes an emergency “panic button” for the crew to send a distress signal encoded with their boat’s position. Even if the button is not activated, authorities on shore have an electronic VMS record of the boat’s position to assist a search effort.

Posted May 4, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

One of 12 Missing Crew Found on Board FWN Rapide   1 comment

FWN Rapide (file image)


One of the twelve crewmembers of the freighter FWN Rapide who were believed to be kidnapped by Nigerian pirates has been found. On Monday night, a search of the vessel located the seafarer, who had been hiding on board since the pirates boarded.

Dutch shipowner ForestWave reported that the individual was “unharmed and in a healthy and good condition.” The firm added that it still hasn’t had contact with the eleven abductees, but it said that “their safety and swift return remains the company’s main priority.”

On Saturday, the Rapide was approaching Port Harcourt, Nigeria when pirates approached and boarded her. They kidnapped 11 of her 14 crewmembers and departed. The remaining two crewmembers managed to navigate their vessel to safety, ForestWave reported.

As of Tuesday, the FWN Rapide was anchored near Port Harcourt.

Pirate attacks are a regular occurance in the Gulf of Guinea, and hijackers typically target crewmembers to kidnap for ransom. Earlier this month, the Nigerian Navy thwarted an attempted hijacking of an unnamed bulk carrier off Brass, but not before the pirates boarded the vessel, opened fire on the ship’s equipment and stole cash and valuables.

Posted May 3, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS