Industry Group Launches Cyber Security Guidelines   1 comment


By MarEx 

The second edition of The Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships has been released, compiled by a joint industry group led by BIMCO.

The second edition includes information on insurance issues and how to effectively segregate networks, as well as new practical advice on managing the ship to shore interface and how to handle cyber security during port calls and when communicating with the shore side.

The chapters on “contingency planning” and “responding to and recovering from cyber incidents” have been rewritten to reflect the fact that the guidelines are aimed specifically at ships and the remote conditions prevailing if a ship’s defenses have been breached.

The guidelines have also been aligned with the recommendations given in the IMO’s guidelines on cyber risk management which were adopted in June 2017.

A new subchapter on insurance has been added, looking at coverage after a cyber incident as this is an important part of the risk assessment which shipowners should now take into consideration. Finally, the Annex, which explains about networks, has been rewritten based on real experience of shipowners segregating networks on their ships.

The joint industry working group members are: BIMCO, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO), International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO), International Union of Maritime Insurance (IUMI) and Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF).

The Guidelines are available here.


Posted July 11, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Two Vietnamese Seafarers Beheaded   1 comment

Basilan Basilan, the Philippines

By Noel Tarrazona

Suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan sent a message to the Philippine government when they beheaded two abducted Vietnamese seafarers from the bulk carrier ship MV Royal 16.

Hoang Thong and Hoang Va Hai were among the six Vietnamese seafarers abducted by Abu Sayyaf pirates on November 11, last year, in the vicinity of Sibago Island. A third seafarer Hoang Vo, 28, escaped from the custody of his captors and was successfully rescued by Philippine soldiers patrolling Sampini village in Sumisip municipality.

The beheaded bodies of Thong and Hai will undergo joint forensic examination to be administered by representatives of the Vietnam Embassy in Manila and forensic experts from the Philippines.

Three more Vietnamese seafarers from the MV Royal 16 are still held captive by the Abu Sayyaf pirates. They are Pham Minh Tuan, Do Trung Hieu and Tran Khac Dung.

The beheaded bodies were recovered in Sumisip town in Basilan, and the military explained to the public that it was the Abu Sayyaf’s last ditch effort to show that they are still strong at a time when the 10,000 soldiers deployed in Basilan are nearing their main stronghold.

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told Philippine journalists that their act was a form of propaganda because of the pressure they are experiencing.

The Philippine military earlier reported that as a result of their efforts, 97 Abu Sayyaf members, including their leaders, have been killed in a series of gun battles with Philippine soldiers in Basilan and Sulu since January 2017.

Among the leaders killed were Abu Misaya and Abu Rami who led a series of maritime abductions of sailors on board commercial ships in the Sulu Sea over the last five years. They were reported to rake at least $12 million in ransom money from their piracy and other clandestine activities.

The on-going battle against Abu Sayaf in Marawi City has already seen the death of 303 militants and 82 military personnel, while 44 bodies, believed to be civilians, have also been recovered in the battle zone. The conflict is expected to end soon, and the Philippine military believes that some of the terrorists who arrived from neighboring countries to augment Philippine terrorist ranks will return to their home countries. These are believed to include Malaysians, Singaporeans, Indonesians and Middle East nationals who earlier joined the local terrorist group to raid Marawi City.

The Philippines and Vietnamese governments have held meetings to arrange joint maritime security patrols, but the discussion have not yet reached a substantive deal. The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have already started their joint maritime security patrols along their borders including in the Sulu Sea. The governments have been collaborating to secure their maritime borders because of confirmed reports that ISIS fighters from the Middle East might look at Southeast Asia as their next major destination.

The Sulu Sea has been described as the Somalia of Southeast Asia because of the growing number of piracy incidents in the region.

Posted July 11, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

European Shipowners Call States to Action on Piracy   1 comment

piracyfile photo

By MarEx 

European shipowners have called on governments to do more to prevent the rise of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, most particularly off Nigeria.

The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) says that according to the latest International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy report, 33 vessels were boarded and four fired upon in the first three months of 2017 worldwide. During the same period, of the 27 seafarers kidnapped for ransom, 63 percent were in the Gulf of Guinea.

According to the ICC International Maritime Bureau data, there was a noticeable increase in the number of reported incidents off Nigeria in 2016 (36 compared to 14 in 2015). There were 54 attacks in the Gulf of Guinea.

In its Global Maritime Security Conclusions adopted 19 June, the E.U. Environment Council recognized the problematic situation in the Gulf of Guinea and underlined the need for regional states to take ownership and adapt their legal systems in order to fight piracy.

ECSA would like to see several measures taken including proper protection by coastal states, investigation of the potential use of private maritime security guards by shipowners and the establishment of effective judicial systems.

National coastal states should ensure safety and security at anchoring places, transfer places and coastal waters. 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.

Piracy and armed robbery should be recognized as crimes and prosecuted. Supporting effective judicial systems need to be in place, and the E.U. could, in cooperation with the United Nations of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), assist the countries in developing national legislation against piracy.

Information sharing and transparency about the situation in the maritime security domain should be available through trusted reporting centers.

An efficient and well working reporting and coordination system to respond to incidents is also required. Initiatives could focus on providing technical assistance in areas such as ship maintenance and repair and through sharing of best practices. One such example is the launch and implementation of the Gulf of Guinea  Inter-regional Network (GoGIN), as it aims to facilitate the cooperation between the 19 Gulf of Guinea coastal countries by setting up an effective and technically efficient network for the exchange of information and further coordination.

ECSA also encourages E.U. member states to actively contribute to the maritime security outside the territorial waters in cooperation with regional states and coordinate the deployment of naval vessels.

Posted July 2, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Ship Explodes Off Somalia   1 comment

explosionfile photo

By MarEx 

An explosion has been heard off the coast of Somalia which observers say could have come from a foreign naval vessel.

Flames and smoke were also seen off Somalia’s Puntland coast around sunset on Monday.

The ship is believed to have been a naval vessel, as two foreign navy ships  helped rescue the crew. The cause of the blast is unknown as is the state of damage on the vessel, which may have sunk.

Abdi Jama, a resident of Muranyo village near Alula, told Reuters the vessel had been in the area for two days before the explosion occurred. He claims to have seen a helicopter land and take off again from the vessel some time before the explosion.

The region, near Alula in Puntland, is frequently patrolled by the European Union Naval forces to disrupt piracy and protect vulnerable shipping, including World Food Program vessels.

However, one media outlet has hypothesized that the explosion may have been from the tanker Rama 2. One of the 14 crew remains missing.

EUNAVFOR has tweeted that its vessels are not involved.

Posted July 2, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

Philippines: Abducted Crewman Escapes   1 comment

piracyfile photo: Philippine bancas

By MarEx 

ReCAAP has reported that one of the crew of the abducted fishing vessel Ramona 2 has escaped after five months of captivity.

The four-man crew were abducted off Sulu in the Philippines on December 20, 2016. One was beheaded on April 13. The remaining two crewmen are believed to still be held by suspected Abu Sayyaf militants.

ReCAAP also reports a case of armed robbery in the area last week. M/Tug 308 was underway when 20 pirates carrying short firearms on board five bancas (fishing boats) approached and boarded the tug. They stole several gallons of fuel, paint and half sack of rice. The crew were unharmed and reported the incident to the Philippine Coast Guard. While the Coast Guard was assisting, another boat with unarmed pirates boarded the tug from the other side of the vessel and were apprehended.

Six piracy incidents against ships were reported in Asia in May. Notably, there was no incidents involving the abduction of crew from ships while underway in the Sulu-Celebes Sea and waters off Eastern Sabah.

There were 29 incidents reported during January-May 2017, 23 actual incidents and six attempted incidents. This was the lowest for the period in the last five years and a 31 percent decrease on 2016. ReCAAP attributes this the drop is largely due to the improvement in the situation at ports and anchorages in India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Conversely, the number of attempted incidents reported during January-May 2017 increased compared to January-May of 2015 and 2016. Of the six attempted incidents, four were incidents involving ships underway in the Sulu-Celebes Sea.

Posted June 20, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

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Posted June 7, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS

ASEAN Neighbors Ramp Up Terrorism Response   1 comment

Philippine navyfile photo

By Noel Tarrazona

Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia are slated to meet on June 19 to finalize the deployment of joint naval patrols as the region prepares for increasing terrorist activity.

The collaboration of the ASEAN tripartite states comes after worsening armed conflict between Philippine soldiers and 300 to 500 ISIS-inspired militants from groups in Marawi City, Mindanao in the Southern Philippines.

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein spoke at a security summit in Singapore warning the war could overflow into the maritime environment. Hussein said the patrols will be backed up with air surveillance patrols to effectively locate the heavily armed pirates who have been victimizing sailors in their kidnap-for-ransom and terror activities.

The East ASEAN region, particularly the waters of Mindanao, has seen an increase in armed piracy with the recent abduction of several Malaysian, Indonesian and Vietnamese sailors.

According to Asian media, the Abu Sayyaf group, who is often suspected to have masterminded these maritime attacks, has made $12 million from kidnap-for-ransom activities since 2012. The frequency of the attacks has caused the Sulu Straits to be referred to as the “Somalia” of Southeast Asia.

Shipowners have been pressuring their respective governments to address the issue, and Hishammuddin said the three countries have initiated the joint patrol “to avoid being accused of doing nothing.” He said that Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore conducted joint patrols in the in the Malacca Strait, and he wanted a similar initiative to be replicated in the Sulu Straits.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly announced that Southeast Asian militants who joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria will likely be defeated in Syria as a result of U.S.-led air strikes. Once ISIS loses territory there, militants from the Middle East could look to Mindanao as their next base.

According to Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, 1,200 Islamic State operatives including 40 Indonesians are now present in the Philippines. Ryacudu described the militants as killing machines and has proposed full-scale regional cooperation to contain the threat.

The security patrols were recommended because of the proximity of Mindanao to Malaysia and Indonesia. One can move to any of these countries in less than 24 hours by sea, making the area conducive to the establishment of terror cell networks in the region.

There are three major armed major militants operating in the Philippines who recently pledged allegiance to ISIS. They are the Abu Sayyaf Group, Ansar Khalifa and the Maute Group, the Lanao-based miltant group who is presently battling soldiers in Marawi in the Philippines.

The ongoing Marawi armed conflict has seen 120 terrorists, 36 soldiers and 19 civilians killed. While there are 3,000 residents trapped in the crossfire, more than 100,000 residents have fled out of Marawi to seek refuge in nearby cities and municipalities.

Maritime Analyst Catherine Zara Raymond in her study Maritime Terrorism in Southeast Asia: A Risk Assessment, forewarned in 2007 that “there are inherent weaknesses present in the maritime transport industry.” It also finds that there are terrorist groups in the region with maritime capabilities who possess the motives to target Western and economic interests.

The study also argued that maritime terrorism is a threat to commercial ports and shipping, and the extent of the threat from maritime terrorism is increasing in Southeast Asia.

Thus, while ASEAN has become the world’s third largest economy behind China and India and one of the fastest growing region’s in the world in terms of GDP, the region also faces struggles with growing maritime terrorism that threatens the region’s maritime industry.

The Southern Philippines is presently under the state of Martial Law to allow military powers suppress terrorists, but lawmaker Tom Villarin is expected to challenge the Martial Law declaration in the higher court saying that Martial Law has only achieved what the extremists want – that is to create a climate of fear.

Posted June 5, 2017 by rrts in -NEWS