Friday, March 18, 2011

Two Yachts Attacked One Boarded

As Reported HERE
Pirates attacked and attempted to hijack a luxury yacht which was on its way to join a prestigious boat show.

The multi-million pound Sunseeker yacht was being transported to the Dubai International Boat Show by Portsmouth firm PSP when the pirates attacked, spraying bullets in the air.

The skipper was ordered to motor as fast as the engines allowed away from the trouble – and as they escaped they saw the boat that had been astern of them being boarded by the pirates.

Frank Dixie, managing director of PSP, who was not on board at the time, said: ‘It was a nail-biting experience to say the least but getting the boat to the show on time was our top priority and we weren’t going to let anything get in our way.’

The journey had not been plain sailing from the time they reached the Suez Canal.

Due to the unrest in Egypt, the waterway had been closed and the PSP boat was held up in a two-day traffic jam. After navigating the canal, the boat made its way to the dangerous, pirate-infested waters off the coast of Oman, and joined a military convoy in order to get through safely.

But it was as the boat broke away from the convoy that the pirates struck and, though there was security on board, the captain was told to sail full ahead away from the trouble.

He reported that the vessel behind them in the convoy had been boarded.

The yacht eventually arrived in Jebel Ali just a day before the boat show was due to begin, and was skippered at top speed to the show’s home at the Dubai International Marine Club in Mina Seyahi.

Mr Dixie added: ‘Everything was stacked against us and this was our first dealing with Sunseeker in Dubai so it was vital that we got their prize yacht there safely and on time.’

Arif Oomer, from Sunseeker Middle East, said: ‘We were over the moon when the yacht arrived at the show in time for the opening. PSP was faced with some incredibly difficult circumstances beyond its control and despite all this the team pulled through and did a fantastic job. If the boat had been stolen by the pirates it would have had huge implications for us and our customers.’

Mercenary firm or Security Firm?

As Reported HERE

I don't know about you but I have some reservations about taking the media seriously at times. In the following article one firm is termed as a "Mercenary Firm" and the other as a "Security Firm" and I am curious how they differentiate between the two. I have no bad remarks that I could ever make about Erik Prince as he is one of the most intelligent persons in the security industry today and I am not in any way saying that the media is accurate about Blackwater. My confusion is how can they call Saracen a Mercenary Firm in the same paragraph?

Somalia: Puntland Drops Deal With Mercenary Firm

The northern region of Puntland has suspended a deal with the South African mercenary firm Saracen International to train an antipiracy force, two government officials said Thursday. Saracen International was hired to train 1,050 men in Puntland to battle the pirates that menace Somalia’s coast. The project was linked to Erik Prince, founder of the private security firm Blackwater. Lafras Luitingh, the chief operating officer of Saracen, said in a statement that the program had been suspended since Feb. 12, and that the decision was made “after close consultation with the U.N.” The Somali government canceled a similar contract with Saracen in January.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Up to 50 Pirates Hijack One Ship

As Reported HERE
Filed Under: Sea piracy, Waterway & Maritime Transport, Crime

BRUSSELS—An unusually large group of 30 to 50 Somali pirates seized an Indonesian vessel and used it in a failed bid to hijack a second ship on Thursday, the EU naval mission said.
The pirates hijacked the bulk carrier Sinar Kudus about 320 nautical miles northeast of the island of Socotra on Wednesday morning, the EU anti-piracy mission said. It has 20 Indonesian sailors on board.
"Details of the attack are not known at this time but initial reports from the crew stated that 30 to 50 pirates had boarded and taken control of the vessel," the EU Navfor force said in a statement.
The Indonesia ship was then used on Thursday to attack the Liberian-flagged bulk carrier Emperor but the pirates were repelled by an armed security crew after "an exchange of fire," Navfor spokesman Paddy O'Kennedy told Agence France-Presse.
The Emperor was reported safe.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Indian Navy Captures 61 Pirates

As Reported HERE

Indian navy captures 61 pirates in Arabian Sea


NEW DELHI – The Indian navy captured 61 pirates who jumped into the Arabian Sea to flee a gunfight and fire on the hijacked ship from which they had staged several attacks, a navy statement said Monday.
Two Indian navy ships also rescued 13 crew members from the fishing boat Sunday night, nearly 695 miles (1,100 kilometers) off Kochi in southern India, the statement said.
The pirates had hijacked the Mozambique-flagged Vega 5 in December and had used it as a mother ship — a base from which they staged several attacks in the vast waters between East Africa and India.
A patrol aircraft spotted the mother ship Friday while responding to another vessel reporting a pirate attack, the Indian navy said. The pirates aborted the hijacking attempt and tried to escape in the mother ship.
When the Indian ships closed in Sunday night, the pirates fired on them. The hijacked vessel caught fire when the Indian navy returned fire, the navy said.
The pirates as well as the crew members jumped into the sea from the burning vessel, but were taken out by Indian sailors, the statement said.
The pirates were carrying about 80 to 90 small arms or rifles and a few heavier weapons, likely rocket-propelled grenades, it said. The statement did not describe any casualties among the navy, the fishermen or the pirates in Sunday's clash.
The navy was checking whether the pirates were from Somalia or Yemen. They were being taken to Mumbai, India's financial capital, to be prosecuted for attacking the Indian ships.
Piracy has plagued the shipping industry off East Africa for years, but violence and ransom demands have escalated in recent months. Pirates held some 30 ships and more than 660 hostages as of February.
This was the third anti-piracy operation by the Indian navy this year. It captured 28 Somali pirates last month and another 15 in January. Both groups also are to be prosecuted in Mumbai.
Indian warships have been escorting merchant ships as part of international anti-piracy surveillance in the area since 2008.
Several nations, including the United States, are prosecuting pirate suspects their militaries captured but other suspects have been released as countries weigh legal issues and other factors.
The prosecutions, the growth of criminal gangs participating in piracy and the ever-increasing ransoms have heightened confrontations.
Five Puntland security forces and two pirates were killed earlier this month during a failed attempt to rescue Danish captives taken from their hijacked yacht to a pirate stronghold in the semiautonomous northern region of Somalia.
Weeks earlier, four Americans on a hijacked yacht were killed by pirates under circumstances that are still unclear. A U.S. Navy destroyer was shadowing the captured boat at the time, and 15 pirate suspects were taken into custody after the gunfire.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rescue Attempt of Danish Family Fails

As Reported HERE

Bid to rescue Danish hostages from Somali pirates fails


An attempt to free a Danish family recently taken hostage by Somali pirates has failed, officials say.
Jan Quist Johansen, his wife, their three children, and two other adults were taken hostage on 24 February.
Soldiers from the semi-autonomous region of Puntland tried to rescue the hostages but were ambushed on their way to the pirates' mountain hide-out.
A number of soldiers were killed but the hostages were some distance away and are all reported to be safe.
The pirates had earlier warned that the Danish family would be killed if any rescue attempt was made.
The BBC's East Africa correspondent Will Ross says it is not clear why the Puntland soldiers chose to intervene, given the risk involved.
The Johansens had been sailing in the Indian Ocean apparently aware of the danger of piracy.
Their yacht was seized just two days after four Americans aboard another hijacked vessel were shot dead during an effort by the US military to free them.
It is not known whether the pirates have made a ransom demand yet.
Our correspondent says although hostages are generally reasonably well looked after, the recent use of military force by some naval forces has led to the pirates threatening more violence.
Somalia has had no functioning central government since 1991, allowing piracy to flourish off its coast.
One piracy monitoring group reports that more than 40 vessels and 700 hostages are currently being held.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Red Sea piracy may be going multinational - U.S.

As Reported HERE
LONDON, March 7 (Reuters) - Piracy in the Red Sea may be becoming a "multinational" business with Yemenis joining Somalis in the lucrative crime, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.
"We are also seeing ... perhaps a new business model occurring in the Red Sea and things that we have traditionally labelled exclusively Somali piracy may in fact be multinational piracy," the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Johnnie Carson, said.
Pirates involved in last month's killing of four American hostages on a yacht seized near Somalia were both Somalis and Yemenis, while Yemenis were on board a pirate ship recently captured by a Danish warship, he said.
"We may be seeing a situation, as yet unconfirmed, where we have individuals from several nations on the periphery, from states that are not governed well ... being involved in piracy," Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Carson told reporters in London.
Yemen and Somalia are both riven by poverty and instability and are bases for militant groups.
The growing pirate threat to key supply routes in the Indian Ocean has prompted powers including Russia, China, India and Japan to send warships, working loosely alongside Western task forces including those of the European Union, NATO and United States.
But Carson said the problem of Somali piracy would not be resolved on the high seas. "We recognize that the area of the Red Sea is enormous and that you can put hundreds of boats out there," he said.
The problem could only be resolved "by ending the impunity that exists on land. It will only be resolved when Somalia has a government with a security force, a police apparatus, a court system and laws that allow it to prevent and prosecute pirates who seek to carry out activities offshore," he said.
Somalis also needed alternatives to piracy to earn a living, he said. (Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Louise Ireland)

USS Bulkeley Frees Ship From Pirates

As Reported HERE
MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- A request for assistance from a Japanese-owned merchant
vessel in the Somali Basin led to Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) warship USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) securing the release of the vessel and its 24 crew members
from four suspected pirates, Mar. 6.

At approximately 3 p.m. (Bahrain), Mar. 5, oil tanker MV Guanabara reported it was under attack when it was 328 nautical miles south east of Duqm, Oman.

Bulkeley, assigned to CMF's counter-piracy mission Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 was directed to intercept Guanabara, supported by the Turkish warship TCG Giresun of NATO's counter-piracy Task Force 508.

Following confirmation from Guanabara's master that the suspected pirates were aboard and his crew had taken refuge in the ship's 'citadel,' Bulkeley's specialist boarding team, supported overhead by its embarked
SH-60 helicopter, secured the Bahamian-flagged vessel and detained four men.

There was no exchange of fire at any time during the operation to release the MV Guanabara.

CMF's counter-piracy commander, Commodore Abdul Alheem said,

"The ships and aircraft under my command have today scored a real and immediate victory through the disruption of a suspected act of piracy and the detention of individuals believed to be engaging in piracy.

"Through our mutual cooperation and shared coordination, CTF 151 and our partner organizations has prevented the kidnapping of legitimate mariners who sought only to go peacefully about their business. Today, there will be a merchant ship sailing freely that would not be doing so were it not for the
efforts of CTF-151."

In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and in cooperation with non-member forces, CMF's mission is to disrupt piracy and armed robbery at sea and to engage with regional and other partners to build capacity and improve relevant capabilities in order to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation.

CMF is a multi-national naval partnership, which exists to promote security, stability and prosperity across 2.5 million square miles of international
waters in the Middle East, which encompass some of the world's most important shipping lanes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pirate: Captive Danes will die if rescue attempted

As Reported HERE
COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Any attempt to rescue a Danish family captured by pirates in the Indian Ocean will result their deaths — just like the four American sailors slain by their captors last week, a Somali pirate warned Tuesday.
Maritime experts said the Danes — a couple with three teenage children aged 12 to 16 — placed themselves in grave danger by sailing into pirate-infested waters off Somalia's lawless coast despite warnings from naval forces struggling to police the area.
The family was captured Thursday by pirates along with two Danish adult crew members after sending a distress signal from their sailboat, the Danish government said, adding it was doing "everything in our power" to help them.
Abdullahi Mohamed, a pirate who told The Associated Press he has ties to the gang holding the Danish family, said they will be killed if any rescue operation was carried out. He specifically referred to the killings last week of four American hostages captured by pirates on their yacht.
Mohamed has provided reliable information to AP in the past on piracy.
The American deaths were a game-changer in the world of piracy. Somali pirates have captured hundreds of ships and thousands of crew members over the years — right now they have 660 hostages and some 30 vessels. But virtually all the hostages would be released unharmed after pirates negotiated multimillion-dollar ransoms for them and their ships.
Companies paid the ransoms with insurance money and rarely attempted rescue missions to ensure the safety of their employees. If a ship's owner was unable to pay the amount demanded, pirates would keep the boat and use it to stalk other vessels on the high seas.
Mohamed said pirates were discussing how much ransom to demand for the Danish hostages, and added that investors backing the pirate gang were angling for a large sum.
A British sailing couple was released in November after more than a year in captivity. Reports varied how much was paid for their release, but it was believed to be around $1 million. Pirates are now commanding roughly $5 million per hijacked ship.
The Danish family knew about the hijacking of the American yacht, according to a travel blog in which they chronicled their round-the-world journey that began in 2009. It was not clear, however, if they knew about the Americans' deaths.
"Of course, we talked quite a lot about it (the American hijacking) but this is far over thousands of kilometers (miles) away and the Arabian Sea that we sail in is the size of Europe," the family said a Feb. 20 posting on ING ING is the name of their boat.
Two days later, the Americans were killed.
The Danish family's last posting on Feb. 23 — a day before their own hijacking — only said their journey was uneventful and "we have NOT been boarded by pirates."
The blog identified the family as Jan Quist Johansen, his wife Birgit Marie Johansen, their sons Rune and Hjalte and their daughter Naja. They are from Kalundborg, 75 miles (120 kilometers) west of Copenhagen.
The chairman of the Kalundborg yacht club, Ole Meridin Petersen, confirmed their names to The Associated Press. He called them "experienced sailors" and said they were planning to enter the Mediterranean from the Red Sea via the Suez Canal and get home by August.
That route would take the family through the Gulf of Aden, one of the most dangerous waterways in the world in terms of piracy.
The Johansens had been sending daily position and status updates by e-mail since Feb. 17 to the British Royal Navy's UK Maritime Trade Operations, which acts as a liaison for ships traveling through waters threatened by pirates, said Wing Cmdr. Paddy O'Kennedy, a spokesman for the European Union's anti-piracy force.
He said the EU Naval Force had written an open letter to European governments, yachting organizations and magazines warning of the dangers of sailing through the area threatened by pirates.
"We did everything we possibly could to advise the yachting fraternity of the danger," O'Kennedy said. "They (the family) were aware of the risks they were about to take."
The EU force and warships from other nations do not provide escorts for individual ships, although they do patrol a maritime corridor that ships are urged to stick to. Reporting a daily position, like the Johansens did, might give a warship a slightly quicker reaction time but even then that doesn't mean help could reach the boat under attack in time, he said.
"Even traveling in groups is not a protection for yachts. It's just a bigger target for the pirates," O'Kennedy said. "When you're on a yacht, it can take seconds from when (pirates) are seen to when they're on board."
Per Gullestrup, head of Danish shipowner Clipper, said it was "totally insane" for a yacht to sail on its own into waters where much bigger commercial ships often travel in convoys and hire armed guards for protection against pirates.
"They sailed right into the pirates' arms," said Gullestrup, whose company owns a cargo ship that was held by Somali pirates for more than two months in 2009.
Since 2008, there have been at least nine hijackings of private yachts in the region, said Hans Tino Hansen, who runs a company specializing in maritime security.
"Sailing boats and small private yachts are very difficult or impossible to secure against pirate attacks due to their low speed and low freeboard," Hansen said.
In the blog, family members wrote that they saw counter-piracy patrol planes flying overhead. "It is reassuring that they look after us," a Feb. 20 post said. A day earlier, the family blogged they had drawn up "a piracy plan for who does what if we are attacked."
Somali pirates have extended their range east and south after increased naval patrols in the Gulf of Aden.
The pirates have rarely captured families and children, but a 3-year-old boy was aboard a French yacht seized in 2009. French navy commandos attempted a rescue, but two pirates and the boy's father were killed in the operation. Four French citizens were freed, including the child.
Denmark's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday advised citizens against traveling in sailboats in the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea and the northwestern Indian Ocean.

Seafarers should not pay for their anti-piracy training, says AMOSUP

As Reported HERE
MANILA, Philippines — The Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), the biggest union of mariners in the world with some 90,000 members, said Tuesday not even a centavo must be deducted from the salary of Filipino seafarers for their “anti-piracy” training for overseas deployment.
AMOSUP executive vice president Eduardo Ma. R. Santos (AFP, ret.), who is a former chief of the Philippine Navy told the Manila Bulletin in an interview, the concerned shipowners and their agents are duty- bound to defray expenses for the said kind of training to prepare and equip the seafarers against any possible attacks while on board ships where they are deployed.
“The anti-piracy training for seafarers for overseas deployment is a mandatory requirement of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and cannot be waived”, said Santos, who was visibly concerned with the situation of Filipino seafarers, together with seafarers of other nationalities, who are presently being held hostage by Somali pirates near the Gulf of Aden in Seychelles
“The shipowners or their agents are duty-bound to defray for the training expenses,” he said, not the government, stressing that sanctions will definitely be pounded on violators.
Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and Maritime Training Council (MTC) Executive Director Liberty Casco supported Admiral Santos’ stance.
Of late, a Filipino member of the crew of the seajacked cargo vessel identified as ‘MV Beluga Nomination’ was gunned down during a rescue operation by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), while another Filipino crewman is still reported missing after jumping overboard during the said CMF rescue operation.
Reports have it that around 155 Filipino seafarers are being held hostage in the Somalia area. No additional case of deaths or injuries were reported at press time, however, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary for Special and Oceans Concerns Jose “Chito” Brillantes said in another interview, “constant monitoring on the situation of our seafarers in the Gulf of Aden and Somali basin is in place” in coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and other related agencies.

Governments must step-up war on piracy, demand shippers

As Reported HERE
Shippers have urged governments to step-up efforts to end piracy after seafarer and shipping associations threatened to boycott dangerous areas.

The European Shippers’ Council (ESC) has warned that a boycott of areas affected by piracy would have serious consequences on the supply chain.

The ESC said it had considerable sympathy for ship operators and their crews who are facing this added peril at sea, and fully understands that many must feel they have to take avoiding action in order to protect themselves.

The Baltic and International Maritime Council (Bimco) recently indicated that it was considering an industry-backed boycott in the region of the Indian Ocean and re-routing vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, while the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is threatening to ask its members to boycott vessels plying in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.

ESC Secretary General Nicolette van der Jagt said: “The protection of shipping from piracy – regardless of flag, or nationality of the crew – is a clear and legitimate responsibility for governments under the UN convention on the law of the sea.

“The ESC urges governments around the world to uphold their responsibilities in the enforcement of the convention and protection of their flags, and to assist fully in protecting all merchant shipping in their territorial waters.

“The impacts of piracy are not just on the seafarers; they are not just local; they are global, affecting us all – and so everyone must act.”

The Chairman of the ESC’s Maritime Transport Council, Jean Louis-Cambon, said a boycott would have serious economic consequences for businesses already affected by slow-steaming, rising fuel prices, unstable and uncertain market demand and austerity measures.

“Companies are focused on cost reduction within their supply chains, efficiency enhancements, productivity increases, greater flexibility and agility in their supply chains.

“The proposal to divert all shipping away from the affected areas, via the Cape of Good Hope, would add further strains on business, and not least, greater costs.”

Re-routing on a liner trade often means adding another ship to the service to maintain the schedule.

On a Europe-Far East service, re-routing around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope would increase the cost by US$89 million a year – $74.4 million in fuel and $14.6 million in charter expenses.

Yesterday, IFW revealed that Beluga Shipping, which recently had two of its seafarers killed by pirates,  is to place private security on its vessels and re-route some around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid pirates.