Teens Charged Over Tanker Hijacking, Captain May Also Face Charges   Leave a comment

BY MAREX 

Three teenage migrants have been charged in a court in Malta after hijacking the commercial oil tanker that had rescued them last week.

There were about 100 migrants on board when the incident occurred last Wednesday, and the master of the tanker, El Hiblu 1, said that some rescued migrants began to riot and threaten violence when they realized that they were being returned to Libya.

The suspects pleaded not guilty in court on Saturday. One of the accused was identified as Abdalla Bari, a 19-year-old from Guinea. A 15-year-old from Guinea and a 16-year-old from Ivory Coast could not be named because they were minors.

The Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) established communications with the captain of the tanker when it was about 30 nautical miles away and still proceeding towards Malta. The Captain repeatedly stated that he was not in control of the vessel and that he and his crew were being forced and threatened by a number of migrants to proceed to Malta.

Nader el-Hiblu, the Libyan captain of the El Hiblu 1, said: “They attacked the cockpit, heavily beating on the doors and the windows and they threatened to smash the boat. They went nuts and they were screaming and shouting: ‘Go back! Go back! Go back!’” he said.

Aid groups have reported that migrants are beaten, raped and tortured on a regular basis in Libyan detention camps.

AFM Patrol Vessel P21 stopped the tanker from entering the Maltese territorial waters. A Special Operations team was dispatched to board and secure the vessel and hand over control of the ship back to the master. The team was backed up by AFM Patrol Vessel P51, two Fast Interceptor Craft, and one the AFM’s 139 helicopters.

The three accused teenagers were denied bail, and The Times of Malta has now reported that the master now faces charges related to human smuggling, citing police sources. The police and inquiring magistrate are investigating the possibility that he could have “misled” the authorities by claiming he lost control of the vessel in order to enter Maltese waters.

2,299 people died at sea last year attempting to reach Europe. Over 300 people have died so far this year.

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Posted April 22, 2019 by rrts in -NEWS

Bourbon PSV Escapes Pirate Attack off Nigeria   Leave a comment

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BY MAREX 

In late February, the Bourbon Offshore PSV Bourbon Explorer 502 escaped an attempted pirate attack that bore remarkable similarity to the boarding and kidnapping that occurred off Nigeria on March 10.

On the morning of February 28, as the Bourbon Explorer 502 was operating about 30 nm southwest of Bonny Island in the Gulf of Guinea, she was approached by 16 armed pirates in two speedboats. In response, her bridge crew increased speed and started evasive maneuvers. All non-essential personnel mustered in the vessel’s citadel.

The Explorer’s security escort vessel intervened and chased off the pirates. The PSV sustained bullet damage to her bridge, but no injuries were reported. She returned to a safe port following the attack.

Less than two weeks later, an unnamed offshore vessel ran into the same situation, but its crew retreated to the engine room and turned off all power. They were not as lucky as the crew of the Bourbon Explorer 502.

At about 1115 hours on March 10, at a position about 25 nm away from the attack on the Explorer, armed pirates in two speed boats approached an unnamed OSV under way. The OSV’s captain called for help from its naval escort security boat, which maneuvered to engage the attackers. The OSV’s crew all gathered in the engine room and shut down all power.

One pirate speed boat began a firefight with the escort boat, killing one member of the boat’s Nigerian Navy security detail. The pirates in the second speedboat boarded the vessel using a ladder. They vandalized the deckhouse, made their way into the engine room, kidnapped five men and escaped. The remaining crewmembers sailed the vessel under escort to a safe anchorage.

Nigeria forbids the use of embarked private maritime security contractors. Instead, it permits private contractors to provide for-hire Security Escort Vessel (SEV) services using civilian boats and armed Nigerian Navy active duty servicemembers.

Posted April 22, 2019 by rrts in -NEWS

19 suspects, two vessels held as Nigerian, U.S. navies join forces   Leave a comment

by Precious Igbonwelundu

The Nigerian Navy (NN) Thursday confirmed the arrest of 19 suspects and two vessels within the Western waters during a joint operation codenamed “Junction Rain”, which it undertook with the United States (U.S.) Navy.

The vessels were arrested for illegal possession of firearms and suspected crude oil theft by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) CENTENARY and a Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) boat which were among the nine platforms and two maritime patrol helicopters deployed for the seven-day operation.

The Nation had reported that Angelopolous Spyridon, 54, (Greek); Kappis Christos, 57, (Greek); Petropoulos Stylianos, 34, (Greek); Zanski Michael-Anderson, 50 (American); were among the foreigners arrested on the boat – SEA ANGELS 3 – where the special forces recovered four Bernelli MI-1 rifles, over 1,000 ammunition and other military gadgets.

Meanwhile, a discharge document was also recovered aboard the boat having the name, signature and details of Michael-Anderson but with another picture.

Addressing reporters at the return from the high seas yesterday, the Officer in Tactical Command (OTC) Commodore Dickson Olisemenogor, clarified that nine suspects comprising three Greece nationals, an American and five blacks were arrested aboard SEA ANGELS 3.

The OTC said the other 10 suspects were arrested on the oil barge that claimed to have come from Ghana but was roaming on the seas in a questionable way.

According to Commodore Olisemenogor, the vessels, exhibits and suspects, would be handed over to the appropriate agencies for further investigation, prosecution and possible conviction, warning criminals to steer clear of Nigerian waters.

In the course of the operation, he said the navy interrogated over 100 vessels and boarded 40, noting that most criminally-minded ships and boats fled the nation’s western waters to other far countries like South Africa.

He said: “There were nine suspects on the first boat arrested. The boat was looking like a naval boat and when we made initial contact, the captain made us believe that he was in our waters for routine patrol waiting for a merchant vessel.

Read also: Navy arrests 10 suspected pirates

“He was asked if he was carrying any weapon or other items on board and he denied. We decided to board the vessel for confirmation and discovered that there were five Nigerians, three Greeks and an American. It is not right for the vessel to be having naval colour.

“They did not tell us where they were coming from and that was why we arrested them. They earlier switched off some of the equipment to make it difficult for you to detect them but unfortunately we have the equipment on board to detect whoever is at sea. No criminal can hide again in our waters.

“We saw some weapons there. About four MI-1 rifles, over a thousand rounds of ammunition and some other military kits. They will be handed over to the appropriate agencies for action. It is a good thing that other MDAs participated in this operation with us and we worked as a team for the good of Nigeria.

“What we saw at sea is encouraging. We had other merchant ships calling and congratulating us for keeping the waters safe for their operations.

“That goes to give credence to this operation. In total we were able to interrogate about 100 ships at sea, we boarded about 40 of them which we suspected may have not given us the accurate information and in the process, two were actually arrested.

“I can say it was a huge success because apart from keeping our sea lines open for normal commercial shipping to take place, we also used the opportunity to further train our men onboard, especially in seamanship area, communication, even our engineers had the opportunity of understanding our engines better and know how to solve certain problems that could jeopardise our operation at sea.

“The other areas I know that we have actually done something were in collaboration and interoperability. Now, we can work as a team with all our MDAs. They understand us and so do we. Area of communication and information sharing came to play because most of these information we got that led us into interrogating some vessels and boarding others came from our sister agencies through our Maritime Operation Center (MOCs) which shows synergy is already established and I just hope that we would sustain it.

“In my assessment, the operation is worth it and should be sustained. I can assure you that through the effort and support of the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, the navy is very ready.

“You saw the number of ships available for the period of time we went out. We want Nigerians to know that their navy is working and time is up for those criminals at sea. Some of the vessels we were monitoring fled to South Africa and some were even in Gabon.

“The fact that we have denied them the use of the sea for days goes to show that we can continue and it is no longer business as usual for them. We are using this opportunity to warn all criminals at sea that this operation has not ended, it is still ongoing. Anyone that feels he can come and disturb our waters let him think twice, because it is not going to be easy for him.”

thenationonlineng.net

Posted April 22, 2019 by rrts in -NEWS

Pirates Kidnap Four Boxship Crewmembers in Gulf of Guinea   Leave a comment

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BY MAREX

Four crewmembers from the container feeder Contship Oak have been kidnapped off the coast of Cameroon, vessel operator Contship has confirmed. The attack occured shortly after the U.S. and other allied forces conducted large-scale anti-piracy drills in the region.

In an attack on March 30, pirates boarded the Oak at the outer anchorage at the port of Douala and made off with the four crewmembers. As of Tuesday, the Oak was moored safely at the port.

The attack occurred eight days after Obangame Express 2019, a multinational maritime security exercise led by U.S. Naval Forces Africa. The maneuvers involved 2500 servicemembers, 95 vessels and 12 aircraft, with participation from NATO allies and 20 West African nations. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Thetis deployed to the Gulf of Guinea to assist with training exchanges.

Regional security challenges

Cameroon shares many of the same security concerns as other Gulf of Guinea nations, though to a lesser extent than Nigeria. The Niger River Delta, 130 nm to the west of Douala, is the primary locus of pirate activity in the region.

Nigeria and Cameroon have an anti-piracy cooperation agreement in place, but despite improved coordination, attacks in the region have risen relentlessly over the past two years. The Gulf of Guinea is by far the most active region in the world for maritime piracy, especially kidnapping.

Pirate attacks off Nigeria have become increasingly violent, with pirates employing multiple attack boats and engaging in shootouts with naval escorts. On March 9, Nigerian pirates kidnapped five crewmembers from an OSV in the Gulf of Guinea despite the efforts of a security escort vessel. After an active firefight between the escort and two attack boats, pirates boarded the target vessel, ransacked its cabins and made off with the victims. One Nigerian Navy armed guard was reportedly killed in the exchange of fire between the naval security boat and the pirates.

Posted April 10, 2019 by rrts in -NEWS

Three Seafarers Abducted From Product Tanker in Gulf of Guinea   Leave a comment

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BY MAREX 

Three Romanian crewmembers of the product tanker Histria Ivory have been kidnapped by pirates off Togo, according to Romania’s Free Trade Union of Navigators (SLN) and the Romanian Ministy of Foreign Affairs (MAE).

At about 1930 hours on Sunday, pirates attacked the Ivory at a position about 20 miles off the port of Lome, Togo. The majority of the crew took shelter in the ship’s citadel, but three Romanian nationals were abducted. The pirates fled the scene after the kidnapping, and local authorities escorted the Ivory to a safe anchorage.

The vessel was reportedly damaged during the attack, but none of the crewmembers were injured, according to the MAE. The union posted images purported to describe the wreckage aboard the Ivory (below).

“The Free Trade Union of Navigators warns that in the Gulf of Guinea, the rate of pirate incidents is increasing in intensity, which affects seafarers and global shipping,” the SLN said in a statement. “In high-risk areas, it is necessary to increase vigilance on the bridge and tune radar for small distances to prevent any attempted attack to succeed. Also, the piracy procedures must be well received by each crewmember and followed precisely in case of piracy incidents.”

Posted March 5, 2019 by rrts in -NEWS

Number of Asian Piracy Incidents Down in January   Leave a comment

Credit: ReCaap ISC
Credit: ReCaap ISC

BY MAREX 

The ReCaap ISC has released its latest figures citing three incidents of armed robbery against ships in Asia in January 2019, down from 11 in January 2018.

All three incidents occurred on board ships anchored: one at Caofeidian anchorage in China, one at Jingtang anchorage in China and one at Ciwandan anchorage in Indonesia.

There was no report of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah and no hijacking of ships for theft of oil cargo reported in January 2019, but the abduction of crew for ransom in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah remains a serious concern.

The Situation in Sabah

On January 15, the Philippine authorities rescued the remaining abducted fisherman from the Sri Dewi 1. The fishing boat was sailing in waters off Gaya Island, Semporna, Sabah on September 11, 2018 when two masked men armed with firearms boarded the vessel and abducted two fishermen. One was rescued earlier by the authorities on December 5, 2018.

As of January 31, 2019, nine crewmen are still held in captivity. The Philippine authorities continue to conduct pursuit operations.

The ReCAAP ISC maintains its November 21, 2016 advisory to all ships to reroute from the area where possible. Otherwise, ship masters and crew are strongly urged to exercise extra vigilance while transiting the area and report immediately to the Operation Centres of Philippines and Eastern Sabah Security Command of Malaysia.

Posted February 20, 2019 by rrts in -NEWS

Private Militia Seize Ship in Commercial Dispute   Leave a comment

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file photo

BY MAREX 

A Singapore-flagged Aframax tanker has been seized by private militia with AK-47 machine guns in the Cameroon.

The vessel Barents Sea, with 26 crew, was seized at the Sonara refinery in Limbe, according to Singapore-based ship management company Eastern Pacific Shipping.

The company claims the action was undertaken by local charterer DSC Marine in clear violation of the law. “Eastern Pacific Shipping condemns this act of unprovoked aggression and strongly urges the Cameroonian government to enforce its security forces to safely and immediately release the vessel and the 26 crew on board in accordance with international law. The safe release of our crew, which includes nationals from India, Ukraine, China, Philippines and Turkey is our main priority.”

According to local media, Cameroon’s only crude oil refinery has been shut down since late January due to a lack of crude oil. The Barents Sea has been anchored off the coast since mid-December due to a financial dispute, her cargo still unloaded.

The crew of the Barents Sea are apparently unharmed.

Posted February 20, 2019 by rrts in -NEWS