Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Marine Insurers Backing Armed Guards as Piracy Threat Grows

As Reported HERE

Marine Insurers Backing Armed Guards as Piracy Threat Grows


More ship insurers are backing the use of private armed guards on merchant vessels at sea to combat Somali piracy as attacks and the resulting costs are set to rise in coming weeks, industry officials said on Tuesday.
Pirate attacks on oil tankers and other ships are costing the world economy billions of dollars a year and navies have struggled to combat the menace, especially in the vast Indian Ocean. Seaborne gangs are set to ramp up attacks in the area after the monsoon season ends.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Mozambique holds 'pirate hunters'

As Reported HERE

Mozambique holds 'pirate hunters'


Four Americans and one Briton, who say they were trying to free a boat seized by pirates, have been arrested in Mozambique and accused of possessing illegal weapons.
They were detained at the airport in the country's third city, Nampula, police say.
The men reportedly say they work for the US security firm GreySide. The US embassy says the group has no connection to the US government.
GreySide has not commented.
Nampula provincial police spokesperson Inacio Dina told the BBC that the weapons include an FN 5.5mm rifle, as well as ammunition and communications equipment.
The police have named the leader of the group as 42-year-old US citizen Michael Ferguson. He has not commented to the press.
The group had reportedly flown from the United States via Ethiopia and Kenya, where they picked up the weapons.
Mr Ferguson reportedly said their plan was to catch small boats in the northern Mozambican coastal city of Pemba before joining a larger vessel and trying to free the boat from pirates - it is not clear which ship they were allegedly trying to rescue.
They expected further weapons to reach them in Pemba, which they had not been able to load on the plane, police say.
Somalia-based pirates have attacked ships across the Indian Ocean, earning millions of dollars from ransom payments.
Four Britons, who say they were trying to provide protection from pirates, were released by Eritrea in June after six months in captivity.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Philippines National Coast Watch System Established

As Reported HERE
National Coast Watch System established

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has created a National Coast Watch System to counter the threats to the country’s maritime security.
“The Philippines faces maritime security challenges threatening not only its territorial integrity but the peaceful existence of the Filipinos,” Mr. Aquino said in Executive Order 57.
“Enhancing maritime security in the seas that link our country with other neighboring states promotes our national interest.”
Mr. Aquino said the coast watch system will have an initial funding of P20 million.
The new order expands the scope of Coast Watch South, which was tasked mainly to provide maritime security in Mindanao, to cover the entire archipelago. It also abolished the Commission on Maritime and Ocean Affairs.
The Coast Watch System will have a council led by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. as chairman. Its members will include the secretaries of Transportation, National Defense, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Local Government, Justice, Energy, Finance, Environment and Agriculture.
Mr. Aquino said the council will meet at least twice a year, and also each time that the chairman decides a meeting is necessary.
A National Coast Watch Center will coordinate the conduct of maritime surveillance or response operations. The center may also coordinate cross-border and multinational maritime security cooperation and help in prosecuting offenders.
The center may tap the Navy, the Coast Guard, the National Police-Maritime Group, and the National Prosecution Service of the Justice Department, Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Immigration, National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime for manpower, equipment and material support.
The council and center may accept donations, contributions or grants from domestic or foreign sources subject to government accounting and auditing rules. Joyce Pangco PaƱares


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Seoul seeks protection for Korean sailors on foreign ships

As Reported HERE
The Seoul government is striving to strengthen measures to ensure the safety of South Korean sailors aboard foreign ships as Somali piracy targeting its citizens continues, a government official said Sunday.

Following a recent series of piracy cases involving its nationals, it has toughened security rules on South-Korean registered vessels using maritime routes where piracy is rampant.

But it was not able to directly demand that foreign ships improve protection measures. Instead, it has urged a network of Korean sailors to seek ways to demand their firms provide better protection.

The government has stepped up such efforts in recent months since a Singaporean-registered ship carrying 25 crew members including four Koreans was seized by Somali pirates some 200 miles southeast of Mombasa, Kenya on April 30.

Some 4,000 Korean sailors are working for foreign firms.

“For South Korean vessels, we can track them down with a radar system and have made it mandatory for them to have a citadel (a bullet-proof security zone in a ship),” said the official, declining to be named.

“But foreign vessels carrying South Koreans are relatively vulnerable to piracy. We, thus, are trying to strengthen their security based on the (Korean) sailors’ cooperation.”

As part of efforts to protect them, the government has encouraged Korean sailors to report to the Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Ministry the names of their vessels, the list of Korean sailors on the foreign ships and their traveling routes, when they cruise through risky routes.

Such information would allow the government to act more promptly when another piracy case occurs to them, officials said. The government has also urged Korean sailors to ask their firms to install a citadel and civilian security staff.

Since Korean chemical freighter Samho Jewelry and its 21 crew were rescued by the Navy in January ― days after it was seized in the Arabian Sea, Korean firms have strengthened their protection measures.

Some observers said that due to such measures, Somali pirates seem to have changed their targets from Korean ships to foreign vessels carrying South Korean sailors.

Another reason Seoul wants to see better security measures for foreign ships is that it cannot actively engage in negotiations with pirates when a piracy case occurs to foreign vessels carrying its citizens.

Piracy is rife off the coast of lawless Somalia where armed pirates take to the seas in search of multimillion-dollar ransoms.

Somalia has been in a state of civil war for two decades and has not had a functioning central administration since Mohammed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. The African country has a coastline facing one of the busiest shipping routes in the world.


Oman Navy Foils Pirate Attack

AS Reported HERE
Oman navy foils pirates’ attempt to hijack vessel

4 September 2011
MUSCAT — Oman’s navy has thwarted an attempt by Somali brigands to hijack a Liberian-flagged vessel off the Salalah coast. Ten pirates were arrested.
The incident happened on Thursday night some 34 nautical miles south west of the Salalah Port and outside Omani territorial waters, a spokesman for the Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) said.
A RNO vessel rushed to the site after being informed about the hijack attempt on merchant ship ‘Nedlloyd Africa’ and, helped by aircraft from the Royal Air Force of Oman (Rafo), rescued the ship.  During the operation, a dhow hijacked earlier by pirates was also freed. No one was hurt, the RNO spokesman said, adding that all the 10 pirates, who threw their weapons in the sea, were arrested.  The 11 crew members of the dhow, all Asians, were released. 
The arrested pirates were handed over to the Royal Oman Police (ROP) for procedures before their trial.