Archive for the ‘-NEWS’ Category

Armed Robbery in Asian Waters Increased in July   Leave a comment

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ReCAAP ISC reports seven incidents of armed robbery against ships in July, an increase from June when only one incident was reported.

Of the seven incidents reported in July 2018, two incidents occurred on board ships while underway and five were on board ships at anchor or berth. Most involved petty theft.

During January to July this year, 47 incidents, 36 actual incidents and 11 attempted incidents, have been verified and reported to the ReCAAP ISC. Compared to January-July 2017, this is a four percent decrease in the total number of incidents. The overall severity of incidents this year has been the lowest in 10 years, with over two thirds involving petty theft.

However, there has been an increase in the number of incidents in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore during January-July 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. Seven incidents, five actual incidents and two attempted incidents, were reported compared to two incidents reported during the same period in 2017.

The latest two incidents, in July 2018, involved tug boat, Sung Fatt 31 towing barge, Sung Fatt 38 loaded with scrap metal while underway in the westbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) in the western sector of the Singapore Strait and the tug boat, Bintang Ocean 3 towing barge, Winbuild 2313while underway in the eastbound lane of the TSS in the eastern sector of the Singapore Strait. In both incidents, the masters and crew did not notice the sampans alongside the barges. The perpetrators boarded the barges and escaped with scrap metal from Sung Fatt 38 and coils of tow line from Winbuild 2313.

Although there was no actual incident of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and no theft of oil cargo during January-July 2018, the threat of these incidents still remains, says ReCAAP ISC.


Posted August 15, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

PIRACY: Nigeria water’s now worse than Somalia   Leave a comment

By Godwin Oritse

For the second consecutive quarter in 2018, the global maritime report on piracy has put Nigeria on the spot, occupying number one position in the number of recorded attacks against vessels in the second quarter 2018, Q2’18. *Pirates The first six months of 2018 saw a significant rise in the number of recorded piracy and armed robbery incidents in the Gulf of Guinea region compared to the same period in 2017.

The Q1’18 report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) shows an increase in global piracy, with 107 incidents recorded in the first six months of 2018 compared to 87 in the same period in 2017. Most alarming is the increase in the number of incidents recorded in the Gulf of Guinea region, which has gone from 16 in the first half of 2017 to 46 in 2018, with 31 incidents recorded in Nigeria’s territorial waters alone.

The report also says Nigeria, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Venezuela and Benin Republic led the table in the number of attempted attacks, number of vessels boarded by pirates, number of vessels fired upon, number of hijacked vessels and number of suspicious boats operated by pirates. A breakdown of the report further revealed that Nigeria recorded 31 attacks, closely followed by Indonesia with 25, while Bangladesh and Venezuela recorded 7 attacks each. Others are Republic of Benin and Ghana with 5 attacks each. According to the report, Bulk carriers suffered the most in the attacks against vessels as 39 of such vessels were attacked since the beginning of the year. Tanker vessels also recorded 30 attacks in the first six months of the year while passenger vessels recorded only one attack so far this year. On the number of attacks on vessels on anchorage, Nigeria led other countries with 14 of such attacks, followed by Indonesia with 11 and Bangladesh with 7 recorded attacks.

Speaking on the development, Captain Jacob, Ovweghre, self acclaimed Director General of the proposed Maritime Security Agency, MASECA, said that the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA are already over burdened with the problem of checkmating armed robbery at sea. Ovweghre disclosed that some of the pirates are not Nigerians adding that sometimes they are nationals of Cameroon, Ghana and criminals from other neighbouring countries. But in defence of the figure, Chairman of the Port Facility Security Officers, PFSO, Forum, Dr. Ignatius Uche, said that the measures put in place by the relevant authorities to checkmate the spate of attacks are yielding positive results as, according to him, ‘‘there has been a downward trend in attacks on vessels’’.

He said despite the fact that Nigeria still leads the chart on piracy, the figure over the last three months has gone down. Former Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Leke Oyewole, commended the maritime authorities for the measures put in place to reduce the activities of the marine criminals. Oyewole stated: ‘‘Whatever they are doing to reduce pirates attacks in Nigeria means that the measures are good and they must improve on them to further reduce the figure being quoted by the International Maritime Bureau, IMB.” Pirates and robbers were armed with guns in almost half of the Nigerian incidents and vessels were fired upon in eight of them. This current report is a confirmation of Vanguard Maritime Report recently on the trend in incidence of piracy in Nigerian maritime space.

Worldwide, in the first three months of 2018, 100 crew were taken hostage and 14 kidnapped from their vessels. A total of 39 vessels were boarded, 11 fired upon and four vessels hijacked. IMB received a further 12 reports of attempted attacks.

On the positive side, the IMB reports that the number of crew kidnappings has decreased globally from 41 in Q2’17 to 25 in Q2’18. However, all 25 crew kidnappings reported this year are from six incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of Nigeria, emphasizing even further the higher maritime risks in this region. Another positive development, however, is the IMB reports of fewer piracy and armed robbery incidents in piracy hotspots other than the Gulf of Guinea.

For instance, no incident was recorded off the coast of Somalia in Q2’18 and while the number of incidents reported by vessels at berth/anchorage in Indonesia and Bangladesh remains high, the situation in the Philippines has improved. According to the report, abductions of crew from vessels in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah have also improved, with no such successful incidents recorded in the first half of 2018. According to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), the first six months of 2018 saw the lowest number of piracy and armed robbery incidents in Asia at that time of the year for the past ten years.

Posted August 9, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

Kidnappings Accelerate in the Gulf of Guinea   Leave a comment

Image courtesy EOS Risk Group


According to security firm EOS Risk Group, Nigerian pirates have kidnapped 35 seafarers from vessels in the Gulf of Guinea so far this year. From January through June 2018, EOS recorded 34 Nigerian pirate attacks on merchant and fishing vessels in the Gulf of Guinea. These attacks resulted in the kidnap of 35 seafarers for ransom and the hijacking of several vessels.

“Most concerning this year has been the resurgence of ‘petro-piracy,’ involving the hijacking of tankers for oil theft,” said Jake Longworth, senior intelligence analyst at EOS Risk. “The return of petro-piracy has been accompanied by an associated increase in the geographical reach of Nigerian pirate gangs, leading to attacks in the waters of Benin and Ghana.”

After a lull in piracy activity off Benin since 2012, EOS recorded seven pirate attacks in the waters of Nigeria’s western neighbor in the first half of 2018. The attacks involved several successful tanker hijackings, one of which resulted in the loss of 2,000 tonnes of product. Nigerian pirates also operated in Ghanaian waters in April, kidnapping five seafarers from two vessels.

Despite hijackings grabbing the headlines, Longworth says that the main threat is still found off the restive Niger Delta, specifically on the approaches to ports and oil terminals in the vicinity of Port Harcourt. “95 percent of attacks we recorded in Nigerian waters occurred near Bonny Island, within 60 nautical miles of the shore. Pirates operating in these waters are focused on the kidnap of seafarers for ransom,” he said. It was in this area that heavily armed Nigerian pirates kidnapped 11 seafarers from the Dutch general cargo vessel FWN Rapide in April. According to EOS, it is the highest number of hostages taken by a Nigerian pirate group in a single attack.

Steven Harwood, head of special risks at EOS, which covers kidnap for ransom response, says there are two main pirate gangs in Nigeria, both employing around 16 full time pirates. “One is located in the creeks near Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and the other around Abonnema, Rivers State. Both gangs are in communication and sometimes subcontract the physical hostage taking to other criminal groups”.

EOS warns that instability in the Niger Delta is likely to increase in the run up to Nigeria’s 2019 general elections, which could result in a spike in piracy activity. “Since the turn of the century, this pattern has been visible in Nigeria ahead of major election periods, evidence of the complex links between piracy and political conflict in the Niger Delta.”

To mitigate the risk, EOS recommends Masters implement Global Counter Piracy Guidance (GCPG) measures and familiarise themselves with the ‘Guidelines for Owners, Operators and Masters for protection against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea region – version 3, June 2018.’ Where additional protection is required, they say shipping companies may require armed escort vessels and embarked guards where domestic law permits

Posted August 4, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

Nigerian Authorities Participate in Anti-Corruption Project   Leave a comment

Credit: Danish Shipping
Credit: Danish Shipping


The private maritime sector and Nigerian authorities have undertaken an anti-corruption project together with the aim of port calls being conducted without demands for in-kinds payments, harassment or the threat of illicit delays.

Nigeria can be a challenging place to do business in, with unlawful demands commonplace, says Danish Shipping, a trade and shipowner organization. For the shipping industry there are numerous steps in the vessel clearance process which lead to inefficient operations and increase the opportunity for illegitimate demands in ports. As an example, an analysis carried out by the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network and United Nations Development Programme concluded that it can take more than 140 signatures to get a vessel or cargo cleared by the local authorities.

“Unlawful demands put a huge risk on vessel crew and shipping companies,” says Maria Skipper Schwenn, Executive Director, Danish Shipping. “Cases of extortion, harassment and threats of violence are, unfortunately, not uncommon. Danish Shipping has a zero-tolerance approach towards bribery, and we are very pleased that the anti-corruption efforts have been fruitful. Danish operated vessels call at Nigerian ports nearly 600 times a year so the financial value of fair and smooth port calls is enormous. It is of upmost importance for the shipping sector that trade and port calls are free from any illicit demands that cause iniquitous delays and stressful situations for the crew.”

The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network has been active in Nigeria for a number of years and has been able to push for improvements in ports processes. With funding from several donors the network has been able to develop a platform of tools to improve the port environment. These tools have been tested in Nigeria with positive feedback and have been further enhanced by an integrity training kit for port officials.

To date the project has supported the implementation of harmonized operational procedures in ports, the establishment of a grievance mechanism process and has carried out an integrity training program for 1,000 stakeholders in Nigeria.

A recent survey of shipping companies calling at ports in Nigeria has demonstrated that the anti-corruption project had a positive effect on the operating environment in the country. Shipping companies have periodically achieved a zero-tolerance approach to corrupt demands without threats or delays in Nigeria.

“The lessons learnt here and the toolkit we have developed can also be applied globally to combat corruption in other hot-spot locations,” says Cecilia Müller Torbrand, Director of the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network.

Danish Shipping was responsible for the contact with donors and the financial governance. The project was funded by Danida, the Danish Maritime Fund, Orient Foundation and Lauritzen Foundation.

Corruption adds 10 percent to the cost of doing business globally and is fundamentally detrimental to economic development, according to the World Bank.

Posted August 1, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

Asian Piracy at Ten-Year Low   Leave a comment

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ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre has released its January to June 2018 report, noting a 10-year low in Asian piracy and armed robbery and a 15 percent decrease in cases compared to the same period in 2017.

There were 40 incidents reported, with 11 of those being attempted cases. There were no incidents of abduction of crew or theft of oil cargo, despite attempts, and there was a decrease in the number of incidents at ports and anchorages in the Philippines. Additionally, there were successful arrests and cases of recovery of stolen items.

Some areas saw an increase in concerning activity: In the Singapore Strait, the number of incidents rose from two in 2017 to four in 2018. At ports and anchorages in Vietnam, the number of incidents rose from none to two.

The number of incidents that occurred in 2017 was an increase of 16 percent from 2015.

The report analysis includes an historical summary of incidents in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Of 122 incidents analyzed over the past 11 years, 111 incidents (91 percent) occurred in the Singapore Strait and 11 incidents (nine percent) in the Malacca Strait.

The majority of perpetrators operated in groups of four to six men (40 percent). 64 percent of the perpetrators were not armed (or it was not stated), while 30 percent were armed with knives or machetes. In 83 percent of the incidents, the crew were not injured.

In the Singapore Strait, more incidents occurred in the western sector than the eastern sector of the Singapore Strait (85 in western sector, 26 in eastern sector). Bulk carriers and tankers were mostly boarded in the eastbound lane of Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) in the western sector. Among tug boats/supply vessels boarded in both sectors, relatively more incidents occurred in the westbound lane of the TSS in the western sector.

There appeared to be a correlation between armed perpetrators and treatment of crew in the eastbound lane of the TSS in the western sector; i.e. the more heavily armed the perpetrators, the more violent they tended to be towards the crew.

There appeared to be a correlation between ship type and the type of loss:

•  Engine spares tended to be the most common items stolen from bulk carriers and tankers in the eastbound lane of the TSS in the western sector

•  Cash/property tended to be the most common items stolen from tug boats/supply vessels in the eastbound lane of the TSS in the western sector (northwest of Pulau Batam)

•  Scrap metal tended to be the most common item stolen from barges towed by tug boats in the westbound lane of the TSS in the western sector.

Posted July 20, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

Thailand Ratifies Convention to Tackle Forced Labor   1 comment

Credit: EJF
Credit: EJF


Last week Thailand officially ratified the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention at the International Labour Organization summit in Geneva.

The ratification has been hailed as a crucial step forward, especially for the country’s fishing and seafood processing industries, which have in the past been notorious for labor rights violations and forced labor cases.

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), which has worked to expose incidences of forced labor in the Thai fishing industry since 2013, strongly applauds the ratification, and the progress the country has made. However, the organization says that Thailand must also commit to three other conventions concerning working conditions in the fishing industry, the right to organize and collective bargaining, the NGO stresses.

The Royal Thai Government had previously stated publicly that alongside the Forced Labour Convention it would ratify the Work in Fishing Convention this month. This has now been delayed. The government has also pledged to ratify two other conventions on collective bargaining and the right to organize for both national and migrant workers.

By ratifying all three key conventions, and ensuring that they are effectively enforced, Thailand would send a credible and powerful message to the international community that the country is firmly committed to eliminating human trafficking, forced labor and other forms of exploitation from its fishing industry, says Steve Trent, EJF Executive Director.

In extensive recent investigations carried out by EJF, workers reported brutal physical abuse at the hands of their employers, brokers or other crewmembers if they did not work hard enough. They reported being forced to work for periods of 24 hours or more, often in return for little or no money.

“Our investigations have shown workers suffering atrocious working and living conditions or having their court cases thrown out for lack of valid evidence of forced labor,” says Trent. “Thailand has now driven a transformation of its fisheries, ushering in extensive, much needed and highly valuable reforms. But if it is to succeed in securing legal, sustainable and ethical fisheries, it must see the entire process through by committing to eradicate labor abuses and illegal practices at every turn.

“As the first country in Asia to ratify this ground-breaking convention, Thailand is setting out its intention to be a leader in the region, it must now consolidate this and bring in the full suite of reforms necessary.”

Posted June 12, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS

UN-Chartered Vessel Attacked off Yemen   1 comment

The VOS Theia carrying relief cargo (WFP Logistics Cluster)


On Sunday, an offshore supply vessel chartered by the U.N. World Food Programme was attacked off Hodeidah, Yemen, the latest in a series of reported rebel attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea.

A spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP) told Reuters that the VOS Theia had recently completed a delivery of 80 tons of food and 55 tons of medical supplies to Hodeidah, and she was waiting at an anchorage about 30 nm off the coast of Yemen. At 1730 hours, unidentified personnel in a skiff approached the Theia and opened fire. They attempted to take control of the ship, but onboard security personnel repelled them in an exchange of gunfire. “Both the crew and the vessel are safe, with no injuries or obvious damage to the vessel,” the WFP spokesperson said in a statement.

While the attackers were not identified, previous strikes on merchant shipping off Yemen have been attributed to Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility for the attack on the Saudi tanker Abqaiq in April. EUNAVFOR intelligence and security chief Maj. Tom Mobbs suggested that a second attack on the Ince Inebolu was likely carried out by Houthis in a case of mistaken identity, and would likely not be the last of its kind. Houthi forces denied involvement in the strike on the Inebolu.

The attack on the Theia came as Saudi-backed forces close in on the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeidah. Coalition forces are now only eight miles away, and a final push to take the port could come soon. UN envoy Martin Griffiths is said to be negotiating with Houthi leaders to see if they will give up Hodeidah without a fight in order to avoid disrupting vital supply lines for the civilian population.

Hodeidah handles the majority of cargo arriving in western Yemen, including food. Due in part to a rigorous Saudi inspection process for import cargo, the UN says, food shipments have trickled through since late 2017, and over eight million Yemenis are presently at risk of starvation. If Hodeidah were to close altogether due to active combat, it could result in famine, aid groups warn.

Posted June 12, 2018 by rrts in -NEWS