Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ministers Approve On Board Arms

As Reported HERE

Ministers approve onboard arms

The Norwegian government has approved ships to carry weapons in efforts to resist piracy.


Trade and Industry Minister Trond Giske and Minister of Justice Knut Storberget presented new rules and regulations, Wednesday, following ongoing discussions since March.
The Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean are witness to increasingly common and violent piracy. Approximately half of the Norwegian-owned 1,000 vessels sail under the Norwegian flag off the Somali coast, and several sailors in the Indian Ocean have been killed.
Up to 300 Norwegian citizens are in the Indian Ocean region at any one time, NTB reports.
“We see that other countries are also introducingsimilar legislation. The pirates have goodintelligence. They know the contents of the cargo, who the creware, and whether there are armed guards aboard. We want our sailorsto feel safe,” said Minister Giske.
Shipping companies can already apply on behalf of contracted security firms from tomorrow, but according to the minister have to prove “that allother measures have been tried first.”
Conducting their own risk assessments of the need for armed guards, as well as presenting security company documentation about training, qualifications, recruitment, proper weapons storage and deployment procedures also for part of the requirements.
Seafarers unions have been split on the issue of carrying arms, with pirate researchers fearing this could lead to revenge.
However, today’s move by the government makes previous practises and statements by different shipping companies history, and was greeted positively by the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association.
“Nobody is served by cowboy conditions at sea. It’s good, therefore, that the rules of armament are now clear,” says Haakon Svane, Director of the Contingency Planning Secretariat.
Underlining the Association only advocates having armed guards aboard when the shipping company feels they are necessary, however, he concludes, “Pirates threaten ships and crewsaggressively, and unfortunately, passive safety measures are not always sufficient. Wemust realise that armed guards make the difference between being hijacked and not.”

Thursday, June 23, 2011

India to charge Somali pirates and their hostages

Of Compassion—and Common Sense
Recent media reports HERE that India is intended to charge 14 suspected Somali pirates and their three hostages that drifted to within kilometres of India’s coast. While one can certainly see the pirates facing charges, the argument that the Somali’s will only be charged with trespassing is somewhat mind boggling. To charge the three Yemeni, indicated as being “hostages”, for entering into India’s territory without the appropriate travel documents should also raise a few eyebrows.
India has taken a reasonably tough stance on its border controls since the Mumbai attacks. The fact that this vessel was reported to have been found near the same route suspected to have been used for those attacks probably does not help the situation. It may even be necessary to show a strong hand against both the Somalis and Yemeni on board so that there is no appearance of vulnerabilities in the overall system.
The problem here is that there are indications that India’s stance on its border controls may be moving beyond the pale of decency and common sense. There have been reports, corroborated through third sources, that Indian officials were directly involved in failing to allow at least one person from being able to seek medical attention when that individual was left stranded on board a vessel (the company having gone into receivership and leaving a number of its crew and personnel stranded).
Combined with those, and other, past reports, there are adequate indications that India`s policies in this respect have moved outside of what might be called reasonable conduct. While, of course, the state certainly has its right to manage its own sovereign affairs as it sees fit, it may be prudent for some to be reminded that (1) they operate within a community of nations and (2) that strength and compassion are a far more powerful mix than simply exercising strength without judgement.
Let us hope that common sense prevails...that the pirates are held pending more serious charges and that the Yemeni persons held hostage are recognized for being under duress and hardly able to be held criminally responsible for their apparent transgression.

Full Article:
AHMEDABAD, India (AFP) – Indian police said Wednesday they would charge 14 suspected Somali pirates and their three hostages who drifted to within kilometres (miles) of the country's west coast in a fishing boat.
A senior police official said that investigators believed three Yemeni men found on the trawler were hostages of the alleged pirates, who are believed to have hijacked the vessel two weeks ago off the coast of Somalia.
The Yemenis told police the boat had been adrift in the Indian Ocean after running out of fuel and had been carried to the Indian coast by the tide.
All 17 men were detained in the coastal district of Junagarh in Gujarat state, some 300 kilometres (186 miles) southwest from the main regional city of Ahmedabad.
"After interrogation we have ascertained that the Somali nationals are pirates who had kidnapped the three Yemenis," Junagarh police chief Depankar Trivedi told AFP by telephone.
He said police would press charges against the Somalis and their captives for entering India without valid travel documents.
The official said the Somalis were only charged with trespassing because the hijacking occurred beyond India's jurisdiction in international waters.
"We are charging them only for the violation of Indian laws," he said, adding the three Yemenis did not possess travel documents and so were also in breach of India's Passport Act.
Trivedi said a marine police team detained the men on Sunday after local fishermen reported the presence of the Yemen-flagged vessel only a couple of kilometres (miles) off the coast of Gujarat.
India's coastguard and navy are on high alert against pirates seeking to evade the international force patrolling waters off Somalia by attacking shipping much further east in the Indian Ocean.
More than 100 pirates have been caught and are awaiting trial in India following a series of violent skirmishes near the country's Lakshadweep islands since the start of this year.
India, which does not have a specific anti-piracy-law, is planning to frame legislation to deal with the scourge.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

UN warns of new peak in Somali pirate attacks

As Reported HERE
UNITED NATIONS — Somali pirates are attacking growing numbers of ships in the Indian Ocean, the UN Security Council was warned Tuesday amidst calls for even tougher international action.
Since January 1, there have been at least 171 attacks off the coast of Somalia and at the end of May the pirates held 26 vessels and more than 600 hostages, France's UN envoy Gerard Araud said.
The violence the sea bandits is using is also becoming more extreme, the ambassador added in a Security Council debate on possible new international legal measures against piracy.
"The international community is facing an unprecedented and growing threat from piracy," commented India's UN envoy Hardeep Singh Puri, whose country has also been affected by the attacks.
Russia's ambassador Vitaly Churkin stepped up calls for an international court to handle the pirates as well as special courts and jails in the Somali autonomous regions of Puntland and Somaliland.
A plan for the courts has been drawn up by Jack Lang, a former French government minister named as a special advisor on the legal implications of the piracy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

MV Orna on Fire, MV Suez Attacked Again

As Reported HERE

MV Orna Burns as Freed MV Suez Attacked Again
MV Orna
MV Orna
Drama is unfolding along Somalia's coast tonight as the hijacked MV Orna burns and the recently freed MV Suez was again attacked by Somali pirates.
MV Orna
MV Orna, laden with over 26,000 tons of coal, is reportedly on fire near Handule, some 18km north of Haradheere, Somalia. She had most recently been operating as a pirate mothership.
The Panama flagged bulk carrier was hijacked on December 20, 2010 some 400 nautical miles northeast of the Seychelles on her way from Durban, South Africa to Okhaa, India.
The attack was launched from 2 attack skiffs, with pirates firing small arms and rocket propelled grenades at the merchant vessel. The vessel was stopped and boarded by at least 4 pirates.
The safety of the hostages (18 Syrians and 1 Sri Lankan) is unknown.
MV Suez
Somali pirates attempted to hijack the MV Suez which had just been release by pirates on Sunday and was on her way to Eritrea for ships stores and a crew change.
She was attacked by 4 armed pirates on a skiff. One pirate managed to get on-board but was overpowered by the crew. He jumped overboard leaving his AK-47 on the Suez.
She is now heading to Salalah with a naval escort.
The Egyptian owned general cargo vessel was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden on August 2, 2010 as she transited from Pakistan to Eritrea.
The crew is comprised of six Indians, four Pakistanis, and 12 Egyptians. Other sources report 11 Egyptians on board.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Maritime Security Personnel Freed in Eritrea

As Reported HERE

British men held in Eritrea freed

Four men who were being held on charges of spying and terrorism have been released after five months in captivity

Four British men held on spying and terrorism charges in the Horn of Africa state of Eritrea have been freed after five months in captivity.
The two ex-Marine guards and two civilian crew members, working for an anti-piracy security firm, were expected to land at Heathrow airport late tonight.
But questions remained over the security contractors' activities in the isolationist country, including official allegations that they set up a "military base" on a remote island and stashed sniper rifles, silencers, pistols and "poison-tipped" bullets "intended for perpetrating acts of terrorism and sabotage".
The men worked for British maritime security company Protection Vessels International, which said they made an unscheduled stop in Eritrea last December owing to rough weather while en route to provide security for ships in an area where piracy is rife. PVI claimed they were arrested because of "confusion over fuel payments".
But Eritrea's government insisted that the men were detained as they tried to leave Eritrean waters without permission, and said its searches then uncovered a weapons cache on the island of Romia. The government alleged that a total of 21 PVI employees were involved in crimes "against Eritrean sovereignty", and that four were caught while trying to escape.
"On 19 December, 21 members of the PVI (including those four detained) infiltrated and deployed different types of weapons, poison-tipped bullets, bulletproof vests, specialised communication equipment and infrared night-vision binoculars in the sovereign Eritrean island of Romia," a government press release said last week.
"There is high possibility that such military hardware is intended for perpetrating acts of terrorism and sabotage. Hence, the members are accountable for infiltrating into the sovereign Eritrean island of Romia and stashing weaponry, for orchestrating acts of espionage and terrorism."
The statement also claimed that 11 seamen stayed in hiding on Romia for four days, along with military hardware, equipment and communication facilities. "These seamen were given directives to keep guard in twos and to pose as 'tourists keen to observe sharks'," it said, proving that the PVI had been using Romia "as its military base and arms depot".
PVI employs former British marines to provide armed on-board security and escort vessels for shipping operating in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. It has denied Eritrea's claims.
Paul Gibbins, a company spokesman, said this was the worst event in the company's two-year history and a full investigation would be conducted into what had gone wrong.
"We need to find out what the pinch point was. Was there a confusion over the fuel? Was there an issue over the vessel's departure? We just don't know at this stage," he said. "The whole episode has been a series of unfortunate events."
Gibbins denied that the company was involved "any espionage or acts of assassination". He said that the ship had been forced to stop in Massawa for a crucial fuel resupply and equipment repair.
But, he insisted, the company had worked hard before it docked to ensure that the ship's presence was not regarded "as a threat or hostile action".
"Christopher Collison was dispatched to Massawa to liaise with the local shipping agent and the port authority," he said. "He was there for four days, explaining and negotiating. We had only intermittent contact with him during that time, because mobile phones don't work in that area. We worked very hard to ascertain if it was safe to enter the port."
Gibbins said that, despite the lack of contact, the company was eventually forced to make the decision to give the ship permission to enter the port. However, he said, it had tried to "desensitise" and "detune" the presence of both the ship and its crew by unloading the weapons they carried as part of their regular duties on Romia, an outlying and uninhabitated island, before landing.
"We did everything we could to make it clear our presence was not misconstrued as a hostile act," he said.
The ship spent five days at Massawa, but was eventually forced to leave before it had fully refuelled. "We needed 15 tonnes of fuel but could only get 1,500 litres before we were forced to leave to meet an engagement to provide security for clients," said Gibbins. "In hindsight, it's true we could have done things better but, given the time constraints and the immediacy of the decisions that needed to be made, we worked hard to facilitate safe entry to the port. We do regret those unfortunate events and apologise to everyone concerned."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Possible Pirates Impersonate Warship

As reported by our team, this is not the first incident of our teams reporting warship "Impersonators" 

RED SEA / IRTC WEST–In addition to the attack 2xdays ago, there was one suspicious incident (12 24.7 N, 46 41.7 E) involving a suspicious vessel attempting to “impersonate” a warship (identified itself as one, typical African accent, across Channel 16) reported by TL. Reporting centers indicate the probability of 2 x PAG and potentially 1 x PAG PACK operating in the area of the BAB AL MANDEB. In addition to larger ship approach, attacks generally involve 1-2 skiffs, 5 skiffs and rarely larger groups of skiffs. Motherships are believed to have RADAR and AIS capability based on antennae mounts. Based on wave (1m and increasing slightly), wind (5-10kn), and weather (fair), the threat of piracy in this area is assessed as being VERY HIGH

Asian Ship Owners Angry

As Reported HERE

Angry Asian shipowners call for action against rising ship piracy


MANILA, Philippines — Asian shipowners have expressed impatience, anger and frustration at the ever-increasing number of attacks on ships and seafarers by Somali pirates.

“Somali piracy and ship hijackings have become rampant since the collapse of Somalia’s central government more than 20 years ago. It is now time to take effective action and eradicate piracy,” said Johnson Sutjipto, Chairman of the 20th Asian Shippers Forum (ASF).

The ASF has expressed grave concern that the waters off the coast of Somalia have grown increasingly treacherous as hijackings, kidnappings, and extortion have proliferated over the past several years, forcing some shipowners to employ armed guards to ensure the safety of their ships and crews.

Robert Ho, the acting chairman of the Ship Insurance and Liability committee stressed that the various liabilities, potentially incurred through the carriage of private armed guards on a ship in an attempt to protect its seafarers, are defined.

Ho said these liabilities should not fall on the master of the ship or the owner, who may have no other option but to consider the employment of armed guards because Governments are unable or unwilling to provide the appropriate security.

“Pirates were once confined to the waters of the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa, but with each success, they have grown ever more daring and extended their area of operation. It is high time for all governments, the United Nations and the International Maritime Organization to come together and put an end to these criminal activities! We cannot tolerate nor allow this to continue any longer,” said S. S. Teo, chairman of the Safe Navigation and Environment committee.

Yasumi Kudo, chairman of the Shipping Economics Review committee emphasized that, “pirates have apparently concluded that the rewards of hijackings far outweigh the risk of capture and punishment. The cost of organized piracy to global trade, estimated to be $7 to $12 billion per annum, is simply unsustainable.”

It was reported that 26 ships and 522 seafarers were being held hostage off the coast of Somalia, some for extremely lengthy periods.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Philippines bids for UN's top marine post

As reported HERE
The Philippines, the biggest supplier of seamen in the world, is making its first bid for the secretary-generalship of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The IMO is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
Diplomat Neil Frank Ferrer, 42, the Filipino candidate, has been the Philippine representative to the IMO over the past 12 years and has served as chair of the powerful Maritime Safety Committee (MSC). He knows the ins and outs of the organization and has grown with the times under the IMO.
The next IMO chief will need to keep an eye on the safety and security of maritime transport in the face of increased piracy. Environmental issues are also high on the agenda. Promoting the rights and welfare of seafarers is also the IMO's work.
Ferrer holds a degree in Political Science from the University of the Philippines. After passing the consular exams for young ambassadors and joining the foreign service, he took up his Masters of Science in Economics at the De La Salle University, and later a Master of Arts in International Boundaries (with distinction) from the University of Durham in the United Kingdom.
Aside from posts in the Philippine embassies in China and the UK, Ferrer began as the alternate Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the IMO (including the International Mobile Satellite Organization and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds in London, UK.) He has also worked with the International Labor Organization in the Expert Working Group on Liability and Compensation regarding claims for Death, Personal Injury and Abandonment of Seafarers (2009).
Ferrer was elected president of the IMO Diplomatic Conference held in Manila in 2010.
A former assistant to the Marine and Ocean Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs, he is also considered one the country's experts on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
The IMO leadership is being contested by candidates from other strong seafaring countries like Japan, Cyprus, the United States and others.
The IMO elections will be held this June with run-off elections expected until July or until a clear majority emerges.
Ferrer got an early endorsement from the Associate Marine Officers and Ratings, Inc. (Amor) which counts thousands of seafarers working onboard ships worldwide.
President Benigno Aquino and his diplomatic officers will of course be campaigning for him. The Department of Transportation & Communications will be sponsoring a dinner in his honor during the IMO convention this month.
It may add to Ferrer's stature that he enjoys the support of the current IMO secretary-general, Mr. Efthimios Mitropoulos of Greece, mainly because of his outstanding performance and dedicated leadership.
During the Maritime Safety Committee Meeting last May 11-20 in London, Ferrer served as the chair and did well in steering the debates and discussions. When he delivered his final statement, many of the delegates stood up to express their support for him and the committee. The Filipinos in the meeting took their cue and began some impromptu campaigning for Ferrer.
There are almost 300,000 Filipino seamen deployed in almost every port and ship in the world. Its about time a Filipino takes his place at the helm of the IMO.