Friday, December 24, 2010

Somali Anti-Piracy Force

As Reported HERE

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Legal adviser hopes mystery country financing Somali anti-piracy force will be revealed soon

|| By: Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press|
The legal adviser to Somalia's government says the private training of an anti-piracy force in the capital Mogadishu is being hindered because the country that wants to finance it doesn't want to be named.
Pierre Prosper, a former U.S. ambassador for war crimes who was retained by the transitional government as an adviser on security, transparency and anti-corruption issues, said in telephone press conference Friday that he has made clear to the donor that it's important to remove the mystery because it has become the focal point of the project.
"To have this kind of disclosure, everyone can come to the table and talk about the substance rather than talk about the mystery," he said, adding he hoped the donor would agree to reveal its identity by January.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that the Somali government is considering allowing the security company, Saracen International, to train a 1,000-man anti-piracy force in Mogadishu that would hit the pirates on their land bases. The company is already training a 1,000-man force in northern Puntland, an autonomous region where the pirates have havens.
Prosper said 156 people attended the first eight-week training course and a second class of similar size is currently being trained.
A multinational naval armada has been trying to protect international shipping, but there are no forces on land trying to tackle the pirate problem on land.
The AP reported that the training project in Puntland — and the one in Mogadishu — would be funded by an unknown Muslim country.
It's unclear how any of the Saracen-trained forces could be supplied with arms and ammunition.
Somali Ambassador Mohamed Ali Nur told the AP in Nairobi that the projects would be careful to obey a U.N. arms embargo on Somalia and not import weapons, but the arms embargo also forbids the provision on military services to any faction unless it has been cleared with the U.N. sanctions committee.
Prosper said he visited Nairobi twice in recent weeks and met with members of the U.N. expert group monitoring sanctions "to better appreciate their issues, their concerns, to help ensure that the process as it goes forward is in compliance with the sanctions regime, the arms embargo." 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Piracy and Ship Security

As companies and people look back over 2010 and take stock of the year, those involved in the piracy issue in the Indian Ocean realize that we are approaching a halfway point in what is turning out to be a pivotal year. This pivot point involves the arming of merchant vessels and how it is perceived. Up to this season (about September 2010), the concept of arming ships was considered to be, at the very least, controversial. As we begin to close out December, however, we see that this approach has gained significant popularity on one hand and, on the other hand, the detractors of it have grown increasingly silent.
On the pirate side of the equation, we have not seen an evolution-- we have seen a shift. The tactics being used by the pirates are essentially the same tactics that have been used for a while now. The weapons that the pirates have been using recently are the same weapons that have been used against the shipping industry for a while now. This is based on a check of the attacks reported to the IMB, EUNAVFOR, ReCAAP, NATO Counter Piracy Operation Ocean Shield, and other reporting centers. The only thing that has changed is that the pirates have decided that they can use captured vessels as mother ships when they are trying to extend their range. In fact, one might even argue that the only significant change is that the pirates are putting more effort into spreading themselves across the whole area so that the military forces are spread thinner. Again, this does not constitute an evolution in tactics or is simply an adjustment of their already existing approaches.
On the other side of the equation, we have seen significant change in the industry. Not all these changes have been positive in nature.
The first major change involves the arming of vessels. At this time last year, the debate was in full swing as to whether or not ships should be armed. Amongst the most common arguments were that (1) it would escalate the situation if ships were armed, (2) sailors are not trained for this kind of thing and (3) it’s the navy’s job to handle protecting shipping.  Most of those arguments have been resolved to a situation where private security companies are being asked to be able to provide armed security on board the vessel.
What was notable about this was that it appears, at least on the surface, to be a reversal of who is driving the show. Normally, the IMO provides guidance with flag state administrations coming closely behind. Then the shipping companies and others work in a compliance-focused mindset to ensure that they do not come into conflict with any major requirements. This time, the IMO was reasonably silent, shuffling the issue to the various flag states. While some flag states provided very clear and concise guidance, others have been remarkably silent on the issue. The end result, requests for security have evolved from just having security personnel on board to having armed security personnel on board—to meet corporate or insurer requirements.
At the same time, a crucial vulnerability has been appearing in the way that many organizations are thinking about security. Many require adherence to the Best Management Practices (BMP) as a minimum condition of contract...requiring ships to put in place the measures as part of the overall protective posture. There have been more than a few instances where these measures were not put in place, and the reasons given were the source of the concern.
The problem lies in the fact that there has been a trend to report a single measure as being why a ship defeated a pirate attack. In some cases, it was the speed of the vessel combined with its evasive actions. It has also included the presence of the safe room (misnamed as the citadel approach) and other measures. In and of themselves, these statements may well be supportable. They do not, however, answer why the ship could be reasonably secure. Nor do they address how a ship can be declared secure in the future.
What has failed is a basic understanding of one of the core principles of security—that it functions as a system. Consider this, there is no guarantee that an attack will only follow a certain course of action, there is only a reasonable expectation that it will. Similarly, there is no guarantee that one pirate will behave the same as the next pirate. This is one of the main reasons why different measures have been seen as the core or critical reason why certain ships were not taken.
This is one of the basic reasons why risk assessments are performed. They are intended to identify the scope of threats and vulnerabilities and then prioritize those, taking into account the impacts against our assets and operations. In most cases, the risk assessment will identify a number of different risks. It may even identify a number of different threats beyond those of the apparent topic at hand or the obvious.  When security professionals assist in the design of security controls, they are doing so with an eye to using the most effective and efficient set of measures that address all risks that management finds intolerable.
By reducing the overall security system to a single security measure, the Company is essentially rolling the dice. Let`s move away from the fact that there may be multiple threats (and hence risks) and move back to the single issue of piracy. The gamble that it is making is that the measure that it selects will be the measure that a particular attacking pirate will be defeated by. One might argue that there is a history of success, but trusting past history to cover all potential future outcomes can be dicey at best. This is one of the main reasons why security professionals tend to rely upon a range of measures organized in an approach referred to as a layer of defence approach—where one fails, a backup or following measure takes over to stop the attacker.
This problem is compounded when you look at the use of firearms on board the vessel. Not only do you need to have the various layers of defence present in order to meet sound security practices. You also need them in place in order to prevent circumstances that could lead to significant legal issues.
The main issue in this case involves the escalation of force when applying the use of force continuum. Even as some ships have relied solely upon the safe rooms or the evasive actions of the ship, some companies have relied simply on the presence of armed (lethally) security on board the vessel with few (if any) other measures in place.
This leaves the ship vulnerable on two fronts. First, if the pirate can somehow overwhelm or bypass the security force, then there is little else to stop the attack from being successful. At the same time, the ship is vulnerable on another front. Instead of being able to escalate force, it can only give warnings that lethal force will be applied. This means that the warnings must be credible and, if not heeded, acted upon. In brief, a bolder (or even driven) attacker would only really be stopped when lethal force was applied...something that the ship is supposed to be avoided.
So the vital point will revolve around three factors. We are at a point where the pirates will have to evolve in their tactics or face failure at a regional level as we gradually strip away their capacity. We are vulnerable, however, to some unsound practices that leave single points or minimal points of failure in the overall system. Finally, by relying on a system that escalates quickly to the use of lethal force, we run the risks of unnecessary legal and ethical risks. To respond to this, we need to ensure that the various protective works are aligned correctly so that attacks are too complex to succeed, applied in a cost effective manner so as to provide some return on the investment and then applied appropriately so that we do not simply exchange one risk for another...only when that happens can we argue that there is a reasonable degree of security for the vessel and company.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

MV Renuar Hijacked

As Reported HERE
Somali pirates hijack Liberian ship with all-Filipino crew in Indian Ocean
( Updated December 12, 2010 08:37 PM Comments (0) View comments

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Somali pirates have hijacked a Liberian-owned bulk cargo ship in the Indian Ocean, about 1,050 nautical miles east of the Somali coastal village of Eyl, EU anti-piracy force said today.
EU Naval Force spokesman Paddy O'Kennedy said the Panama-flagged MV Renuar was attacked early on Saturday with 24 crew, all Filipinos, in the distance of 550 nautical miles from the coast of India.
"The attack was launched from two attack skiffs, supported by a mother ship, with pirates firing small arms and rocket propelled grenades at the merchant vessel," O'Kennedy said. Since the attack, he said, the pirates have confirmed that they have control of the ship which is now heading West towards the Somali coast.
The MV Renuar has a deadweight of 70,156 tonnes, and was en route to Fujairah (UAE) from Port Louis (Mauritius), when pirated. "The 24-man Filipino crew attempted to evade the pirates for some time causing the pirates to make several determined attacks before finally boarding the vessel," O'Kennedy said
"There are presently no communications with the ship and the condition of the crew is not known."
Hijackings off East Africa are a cause of growing international concern, spurring a number of international navies to patrol the pirate-wracked Gulf of Aden. Hundreds of other people remain hostage aboard hijacked ships in the Gulf of Aden and its surrounding seas.
An estimated 25,000 ships annually cruise the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia's northern coast. The Gulf of Aden has the highest risk of piracy in the world.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Malaysian Vessel Hijacking

As Reported HERE

Malaysian vessel hijacked by pirates two days before dinghies arrive in Maldives

Malaysian vessel hijacked by pirates two days before dinghies arrive in Maldives thumbnail Somali pirates have hijacked a Malaysian vessel west of the Maldives on Friday, according to reports from the EU’s anti-piracy force, days before a pair of dinghies containing 10 Somali nationals were discovered stranded near islands in the country’s south.
The EU’s Operation Atalanta taskforce reported that the ‘Albedo’ was hijacked 900 nautical miles east of the Somali capital of Mogadishu in the early hours of November 26. The vessel was carrying containers and was bound for Mombasa from Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to the Vesseltracker website.
The crew consist of 23 people from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran. The EU taskforce’s report did not say whether the ‘Albedo’ crew were being held hostage, however it noted that Somali pirates are currently holding 22 vessels with 521 hostages.
Two days (November 28) after the taking of the Albedo, a dinghy containing seven Somali nationals was brought ashore after it was discovered in Gnaviyani Atoll. The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) discovered a bullet shell during a search of the vessel.
On November 30, a second dinghy containing three Somali nationals was discovered by a Maldivian fishing near Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.
The captain of the fishing boat Mohamed Hussain told Minivan News that one of the men had a stab wound in his neck and was seriously injured.
During an MNDF press conference yesterday, Brigadier General Zakariyya Mansoor said that Somali nationals found in Maldivian waters recently were potentially not castaways, as they may have appeared.
“They pretend to be out fishing when they lose contact with their main vessel,” he explained.
”They are actually coming from a [mothership] used for hijacking yachts and cargo ships,” said Mansoor. ”When they lose contact with the main ship they shutdown their engine to save diesel until they find land.”
Mansoor noted that many of the ‘castaways’ found in the Maldivian waters had both diesel and food, and that their physical condition was not weak.
”Although piracy decreases during this season because of rough seas, when the sea is calm, more than 400 to 500 such boats will be active in these waters,” said Mansoor.
He advised fisherman not to get too close to anonymous boats without first informing the island offices and the MNDF.
”Without doubt they are very dangerous,” he said.
Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed said the government was working with their Somali counterparts to repatriate Somali nationals stranded in the Maldives, but added that this was difficult because of the “logistics and funds required.”
“At the moment [the arrivals] are alarming but not a direct threat,” Dr Shaheed said. “They are at the outer limits of their reach at the moment, but their reach is increasing.”
According to the ICC Commercial Crime Service, suspected Somali pirate vessels have been reported attacking vessels off the Seychelles and west of the Maldives.
“Pirates use ocean going vessels ‘mother vessels’ to sail far from Somali coast to attack and hijack passing vessels. Smaller skiffs are launched from the pirate “mother vessel” to attack passing merchant vessels, the ICC reported. “Pirates are heavily armed with automatic weapons and RPG launchers.”

Friday, December 10, 2010

MV Panama Hijacked

As Reported HERE
On the afternoon of 10 December, the MV PANAMA was pirated by 2 armed skiffs with a total of 5 pirates on board.  A Rocket Propelled Grenade was used during the attack which occurred approximately 80 nautical miles east of the Tanzanian/Mozambique border.
 This extreme Southerly attack in the Somali Basin is a further example of the constantly expanding area of pirate activity.
The MV PANAMA is a Liberian flagged container ship, operated by a US based company, with a crew of 23 (all from Myanmar).  She was en route from Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) to Beira (Mozambique) when the attack occurred. There is no news of the condition of the crew and EUNAVFOR are monitoring the situation.
EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation ATALANTA’s main tasks are to escort merchant vessels carrying humanitarian aid of the World Food Program (WFP) and vessels of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). EU NAVFOR also protects vulnerable vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, deters and disrupts piracy. In addition, EU NAVFOR monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pirates Throw Sailor Overboard

As Reported HERE
A Thai crew member thrown into the sea by pirates after hijacking a cargo vessel has been rescued by an Indian warship about 350 nautical miles off Minicoy Island in the Lakshadweep Island chain.
The Thai national's vessel, Prantalay 12, was hijacked a couple of months ago and being used as a mother ship by Somali pirates to launch attacks on other merchant vessels when he was thrown over board by the sea brigands, a navy spokesperson said here today.
India's INS Krishna, which was patrolling in the area noticed Prantalay 12 and was following it when the Thai sailor was thrown out into the sea by the brigands, he said, adding the Thai man was brought to Kochi for further formalities.
"On the evening of December 4, INS Krishna rescued the Thai national while on patrol about 350 nautical miles from Minicoy Island. On sighting INS Krishna, the trawler started heading Westwards at maximum speed away from the islands. One of the Thai nationals held hostage on board was seen to be pushed into the sea," he said.
The pirates later sailed the trawler at high speeds towards the Somali coast.
Prantalay 12 is the second suspected mother vessel that was cleared from the Eastern Arabian Sea. The navy had deployed a multi-ship force in November about 300-400 nautical miles off India's west coast to clear the area of the pirates.
During the course of the security sweep in the area, the navy ship chased another merchant tanker MT Polar, being used as a mother ship by pirates, away from the region.
"Navy and Coast Guard ships and aircraft continue to patrol the areas of reported pirate attacks in an effort to ensure safety of the sea lanes of communication," the navy spokesperson said, reiterating the requirement for all merchant vessels to adopt best management practices, as prescribed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as vital to ensuring the safety of shipping from piracy.
However, a Bangladeshi merchant vessel was hijacked by Somali pirates about 80 nautical miles off Minicoy Island and about 320 nautical miles of Indian west coast in international waters, but within Indian Exclusive Economic Zone.
The vessel, identified as MV Jahan Moni, had raised an alarm that it was being chased by a pirate-operated skiff and sought help, but by the time the Indian Navy and Coast Guard ships that were in the vicinity could respond, the merchant vessel was hijacked, Defence Ministry sources said.
The attack on MV Jahan Moni came on Sunday and the 26-member crew were captured by the pirates, who took the vessel back to Somali coast, the sources said.
The vessel was reportedly carrying 41,000 tonnes of nickel on board and it is believed that the pirates would use both the merchandise and the crew of the cargo ship to demand a ransom, they said.
The attack took place at the 'eight-degree channel' between Minicoy Island and Maldives, which witnesses a traffic of about 40 cargo ships on an average every day.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bangladesh Ship Seized

As Reported HERE
A Bangladeshi-flagged ship is believed to have been seized by pirates off southern India, say shipping officials.
The MV Jahan Moni was attacked after a long pursuit near the Lakshadweep group of islands, some 300km (185 miles) from the Indian coast.
The ship, with 25 Bangladeshi crew on board, was on its way from Singapore to Europe via the Suez Canal.
Bangladeshi Rear Admiral Bazlur Rahman said the crew had raised the alarm and the ship was now moving erratically.
"We lost contact with the ship at 5.38pm (1138 GMT) Bangladesh time after it was attacked by pirates for the second time. We suspect the ship has been captured by the pirates," Adm Rahman told the AFP news agency.
"All symptoms are there that the pirates have taken control of the ship.
"It was chased by the pirates for more than an hour," said Adm Rahman, adding that the boat had sent out a distress signal.
"Now it is showing erratic movement."
The Bangladesh Shipping Department said it had sought help from the Indian coastguard and from anti-piracy teams in Dubai and Singapore.
Several nations are involved in operations to tackle Somalia-based piracy in the busy shipping lanes of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
Somali pirates have been seizing ships increasingly far away from their homeland, but have never been known to operate so close to India.