Mr. Aris Constantinou, Marine Surveyor for the Cyprus Flag Administration will be one of the panelists.
Born and raised in Limassol, Cyprus. Aris Constantinou holds a Higher National Diploma in Marine Engineering. He served his military service in the Cyprus National Navy on board coastal patrol boats under the rank of Engine Second Officer for two years. He graduated from the University of New Orleans, USA with a degree in Marine Engineering and Naval Sciences.
Member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) Board USA Chapter and current member of the Cyprus Naval Architects and Marine Engineers Association (CyNAMEA).
When repatriated, he then spent 8 years evenly distributed between 3 major Ship Management Companies. Since 2009 he is a member of the Cyprus Flag Administration, particularly in the Maritime Security Department, dedicated in Ships and Port Facilities Security matters and classified information. He is a Port State Control Officer and an accredited National Flag Surveyor. He is also accredited as a National Expert for Maritime Security accredited to the EU and holds EU authorization for classified documents related to Maritime Security.
For the last 5 years he has been assigned the task of implementing the Cyprus’ law for the protection of Cyprus ships against piracy, including the certification of PSSC’s allowed to carry firearms on board Cyprus ships.
Aris Constantinou is certified in Basic Fire Fighting and Life Survival Techniques at sea.
He is An Open Water and Night Diver certified by PADI. He also served as Captain of the Limassol Crusaders Rugby Club. And part of the National Rugby Team of Cyprus.
Aris Constantinou excels in communication skills, committed to excellence and is innovative as a person.
Mr. Philip Tinsley, Head of Maritime Security of BIMCO
“Phil aims to ensure BIMCO continues to be regarded as a lead industry advisory organisation in all matters of maritime security. This not only includes piracy but also cyber, migration by sea, stowaways and smuggling“
Mr. Leonel Medina, M.Sc., Technical Officer, Former Analyst of data of Maritime Security of Ships of SEGUMAR Panama, will be one of the panelists.
I have been working in the Panama Maritime Authority for 7 years, doing different job positions (nautical inspector, analyst of maritime security of ships and Maritime Safety Technical Officer). Since four weeks ago I started to work as Technical Officer for the Segumar Panama department issuing technical certificates, exemptions and/or authorizations. Previously, I have been working as analyst of data of maritime security incidents on board of the Panama flagged vessels. This incidents include kidnapping of the crew, robbery and hijacking, among others. Additionally, I was in charge of the monitoring of the ship security alarm system and the correct implementation of the ISPS code in that aspect.
Before the Panama Maritime Authority, I worked on board merchant ships as deck cadet and deck officer and also I have experience working for a private shipping company as stowage coordinator of container vessels.
In the year 2004 I studied in the Merchant Marine Academy of Panama called Escuela Nautica de Panama, in the year 2012 took a three-months course of International Maritime Conventions in Yokohama, Japan, three years ago I graduated of a Master in Science degree in the World Maritime University in Malmo, Sweden and last year 2016 I took a two-weeks course of Law of the Sea in Yeosu, South Korea.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has offered the Maritime Forensic Expert Team to Thailand Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Centre (THAI-MECC) to assist investigations in the robbery of an oil tanker belonging to a Thai company on Friday.
MMEA director-general Datuk Zulkifli Abu Bakar said the expert team has wide experience in handling high profile cases such as the robbery of MT Orkim Harmony in June 2015, which led to the arrest of the pirates.
“The team has the experience and reputation to handle such incidents,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
An oil tanker, CP41, which was sailing to Songkhla, Thailand from Singapore was robbed by a group of men who fled with 1.5 million litres of diesel from the ship’s load of 3.8 million litres.
After the incident at about 9pm in the waters off Kuantan, the ship continued its journey and arrived in Songkhla on Sunday.
Zulkifli said the robbery was believed to be linked to syndicates in the fuel black market.
He said the MMEA would be stepping up cooperation with other agencies such as Customs, Marine Department and the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry to combat piracy.
Source: Astro Awani
Pirate attacks in the coast of Nigeria, reduced significantly in the first half of 2017 following some measures adopted by the Federal Government, the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali has said.
Dan-Ali disclosed this in Rome, Wednesday at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of representatives of Government of G7++ Friends of Gulf of Guinea and representatives of Gulf of Guinea States.
A copy of the minister’s speech was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja by his spokesman, Col. Tukur Gusau.
He said only four successful attacks were recorded out of 16 of such attempted attacks during the period.
The minister stated that when compared to same period in 2016, there were more attacks as 36 successful attacks were recorded out of 55 attempted attacks.
“As we may be aware in recent years, the socio-economic agitations in the Niger Delta have elicited significant maritime security challenges such as attacks on shipping, kidnapping, crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and refining have remained challenging.
“Nevertheless, the combination of infrastructure development programmes, engagements with local communities, sustenance of the Amnesty Programme for repentant ex-militants and improved maritime policing activities have proved effective in stemming the tide of insecurity around the coast of Nigeria.
“This is a direct reflection of the activation of dedicated anti-piracy Operation TSARE TEKU off the coast of Niger Delta.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria has also initiated plans to establish modular refineries and other programmes to curb crude oil theft and to promote youth employment in the region,’’ the minister said.
Dan-Ali, however, expressed concern of Nigeria about IUUF – Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing activities by foreign flagged ships in the nation’s coastal area.
He said that Nigeria was also concerned about the persistent involvement of other nationals in the crude oil theft and piracy activities in the Niger Delta.
“In the course of Nigerian Navy’s anti-piracy operations, we have also seen a trend of preference for kidnap-for-ransom, with involvement of negotiators from outside the region,’’ he said.
The minister, therefore, called for more engaging cooperation and operational collaboration among Gulf of Guinea states and with the G7++ in information sharing on maritime criminal networks, individuals and vessels.
He assured that Nigeria remains committed to the objectives of the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) and recently adopted AU Charter on Maritime Security Safety and Development.
“In this regard, the process for legislating a Bill on Piracy has also been initiated.
“Furthermore, the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari recently developed a Harmonised Standard Operating Procedure on Arrest, Detention and Prosecution (HSOP-ADP) of Vessels and Persons involved in maritime criminalities.
“The HSOP also made provision for developing and sharing common database on maritime criminality.
“As the INTERPOL recently indicated interest in supporting this initiative, Nigeria looks forward to more engaging discussions and capacity building programmes,’’ Dan-Ali said.
Tokyo knows that any acceleration of its moves in the South China Sea will likely be reciprocated by Beijing’s tightening of the screws in the East China Sea.
Sino-Japanese relations have long been marred by a maritime and territorial row in the East China Sea as well as a historical dispute over Japan’s wartime memory, which has prevented sustainable rapprochement. Further complicating the situation, bilateral ties are now increasingly strained by Japan’s growing presence in the South China Sea, where overlapping territorial and maritime disputes have pitted China against several Southeast Asian neighbours.
At the recent Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s most important defense and security summit, Japanese defense minister Tomomi Inada delivered pointed criticisms of China, deploring its attempts to “upend the rules-based order” and “alter the status quo based on assertions incompatible with existing international norms.” While never directly referring to China, Inada’s remarks were some of the most vivid official expressions in recent years of Japan’s concerns regarding China’s foreign policy. The following day, Beijing issued a rebuttal, expressing its “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to what it deemed “irresponsible remarks.”
The JS Izumo, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s largest warship, is currently sailing through the South China Sea for three months, making port calls to Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. The cross-ocean trek comes just as the warship is preparing to take part in a multilateral naval exercise in the Indian Ocean in July, along with India and the United States. The Izumo’s itinerary is meant to serve as a sign of Japan’s commitment to its Southeast Asian partners and is a clear response to what it perceives as China’s overbearing approach to the South China Sea. Notably, the trip also comes on the heels of Tokyo’s November 2016 announcement of the so-called Vientiane Vision, which lays out Japan’s plans for increased defense cooperation with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Despite not being a claimant in the South China Sea disputes, Japan is thus poised to become a major player in the body of water, which is likely to heighten tensions with Beijing. With already frayed ties due to the East China Sea’s Senkaku Islands dispute, which shows no sign of subsiding, one may wonder why Japan would risk escalation by increasing its visibility in an area that Beijing sees as vital to its national security.
While the sustained presence of military assets is a relatively new phenomenon, Japan has long been concerned with maritime safety and the security of sea lines of communication in the South China Sea, through which 90 percent of its oil imports transit. As a major maritime trading nation, Japan has seen maritime transport as critically important for national security, and successive Japanese governments since the 1960s have invested heavily in securing sea lines of communication. Japan has founded or given impetus to organizations or agreements whose aims were to enhance maritime safety, such as the Malacca Strait Council in 1968 and the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combatting Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) in 2001. Japan has also consistently brought up maritime security in multilateral settings such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asian Summit and the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus.
However, more recently, the main driver of Japan’s involvement in the South China Sea has been the territorial disputes with China and the latter’s growing assertiveness in the maritime domain. Tokyo sees strong normative parallels between Beijing’s approaches to the South and East China Seas, leading to worries that Chinese gains in one area could embolden it in the other. In 2013, former Japanese defense minister Itsunori Onodera explicitly made the connection between the two locales, stating that “the Japan side (was) very concerned that this kind of situation in the South China Sea could affect the situation in the East China Sea.” Since that point, the Abe administration has consistently prioritized the South China Sea issue and has spent significant investment and political capital in strengthening its commitment to the other littoral states in ASEAN.
Since 2012, when the East China Sea dispute flared up following an incident involving a Chinese fishing trawler and Japanese coast guard vessels, the number of Chinese patrols around the Senkaku Islands has dramatically increased. Through sustained patrols, with creative mixes of commercial, fishing and government vessels, and incremental steps aimed at normalizing its presence, China is employing similar gray-zone tactics as those used in the South China Sea. Japan’s outlook has changed significantly in light of these perceived parallels, and as a result the Japanese government believes that undermining China’s approach to the South China Sea will lead to more favorable outcomes in the East China Sea.
While the presence of military hardware—currently illustrated by the JS Izumo voyage—is the most conspicuous element of Japan’s South China Sea strategy, Tokyo’s approach focuses heavily on capacity-building and defense cooperation with Southeast Asian claimants. Since the election of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in 2012, the government has most notably deepened defense ties with Vietnam and the Philippines, two of the major South China Sea claimants. In addition to providing military training and conducting joint exercises, Japan has been transferring equipment—such as patrol vessels and maritime surveillance aircraft—to both countries.
Despite these clear imperatives for a deeper involvement in the South China Sea, Tokyo remains cautious on the scope of its engagement in the disputed waters. For example, while Inada expressed her support for U.S. freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) in the South China Sea during her speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, she also refrained from commenting directly on Tokyo’s position with regard to potentially joining such operations with its U.S. ally in the future. Instead, Japan’s defense policymakers carefully craft their message to tailor their engagement to support states in the region—and principles such as freedom of navigation and respect for international law—as much as possible without actually deepening their defense engagement to an extent that might impact Tokyo’s own national interests.
One of the main reasons for why Japan is reluctant to sign on for FONOPS (for example) in the South China Sea is due to a capacity issue. Currently, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) is stretched thin with its active deployments both in the Sea of Japan and in Okinawa, among other places. Tokyo permanently has at least two JMSDF Aegis-equipped destroyers positioned in the Sea of Japan in order to deter and potentially defend the country against the growing ballistic missile threat from North Korea. Moreover, the JMSDF is stretched thin with its active role in deterrence and also in its role of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in the East China Sea. Nevertheless, despite these constraints, the Japanese government is intent on ensuring the JMSDF’s regular presence in the South China Sea, as the Izumo’s deployment illustrates.
But while the capacity argument is sometimes touted by officials in Tokyo, the real concern about upping the stakes in the South China Sea, either through engaging in FONOPS or more measures, is that Japan knows that any acceleration of its moves in the South China Sea will almost surely be reciprocated by Beijing’s tightening of the screws in the East China Sea. While the situation in the East China Sea also remains unstable, Japan is working—both domestically and alongside its treaty ally in Washington, DC—to manage the risks of escalation and Chinese encroachment. There is no question that these risks would increase exponentially if Japan were to engage in FONOPS in the South China Sea.
This is not to underplay the significance of the Izumo deployment or the considerable efforts Japan has contributed to the region in recent years to shore up the capacity of littoral states in ASEAN. It is important, however, to keep in mind that Tokyo has to delicately calibrate its approach in the region to ensure a proper balance of its regional security interests alongside its national-security imperatives.
Benoit Hardy-Chartrand is a Senior Research Associate with the Centre for International Governance Innovation. J. Berkshire Miller is an international affairs fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations based in Tokyo.
Source: The National Interest
In the last two months, the French-UK led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 has conducted ‘Operation Southern Surge’ seizing more than 13/4 tons of narcotics from traffickers in the Indian Ocean dealing a significant blow to the funding of terrorism. The seizures included 1250 kg of heroin and 455 kg of hashish.
Narcotics trafficking, particularly heroin, has long been associated with funding terrorism. It is estimated by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that opiate-derived monies account for more than 10 per cent of Afghanistan’s GDP, and 50 per cent of the Taliban’s funding. Approximately 95 per cent of European heroin originates in Afghanistan.
With an Area of Operations more than 2,000,000 square miles in size, CTF 150 operations such as Southern Surge are necessary to concentrate forces and maximise coordination of the multi-national assets assigned to the task. French frigates Surcouf and Nivose, British frigate HMS Monmouth, Australian frigate HMAS Arunta and US destroyers USS Truxtun and USS Hue City have all conducted multiple boardings of suspicious dhows, resulting in the seizure and destruction of narcotics. Most of the seizures involved combined action between the warships and maritime patrol aircraft from France, Denmark and New Zealand, which supported the operation. These aircraft search wide areas of ocean in order to locate suspicious dhows, before passing their positions to the warships to intercept and board the vessels.
The impact of Combined Maritime Forces operations goes beyond narcotics seizures, as the involvement of so many nations helps to build international relationships among the participating nations, and allows them an opportunity to work together under cooperative conditions, fostering and developing partnerships with one another. The current combined French-UK staff supporting Rear Admiral Olivier Lebas as CTF 150 Commander is a clear example of the close partnership between France and the UK, based on the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) framework between these two countries, set up under the Lancaster House agreements of 2010.
Coordination with regional forces and actors outside of Combined Maritime Forces is equally as important. Capacity building, such as boarding training with local coast guards, enables the sharing of proven techniques and best practices. Key leadership engagement with regional navies, law enforcement agencies, political bodies and NGOs further enhances the operation by building mutually beneficial relationships and improved information exchange.
“I am delighted by the successes of Operation Southern Surge and wish to commend all those that have contributed. The cooperation, coordination and tenacity of the units from seven nations that have directly supported CTF 150 over the past two months has been exceptional, and showcases the spirit fostered within the Combined Maritime Forces,” said Admiral Lebas.
Established in 2002, CTF 150 is primarily focused on disrupting terrorist organisations and their activities by denying them the freedom of manoeuvre in the maritime domain. In collaboration with international and regional maritime security partners, CTF 150 teams have seized and destroyed billions of dollars in drugs and captured thousands of weapons ensuring they are no longer available to organisations that would cause others harm.
Source: Combined Maritime Forces
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has set up a special task force to investigate the attack on a Thai oil tanker by a group of pirates in waters off Kuantan on Friday.
Its director-general Datuk Zulkifili Abu Bakar said MMEA has contacted the Thailand Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Centre to is assistance in the probe.
He said since the hijack incident is a cross border crime, MMEA will also coordinate with the Indonesian navy and Singapore Police Coast Guard.
“We will share intelligence to tackle such incidents from occurring in the future and we hope to track down the perpetrators. MMEA’s assets have been deployed to conduct sea and air patrols at hot spots with the assistance from Royal Malaysian Navy and marine police.
“Such incident can be curbed with the cooperation from all quarters and ship operators must immediately report such cases so that the authorities can deploy their assets to the location,” he said in a statement today.
Zulkifli said MMEA had only received information about the Thai tanker hijack some 21 hours after the incident.
He said based on their experience in solving previous fuel-siphoning cases, he was confident the recent case on Friday will be solved.
In the incident, a group of armed pirates hijacked the oil tanker at about 9pm and made off with about 1.5 million litres of diesel.
The tanker, CP41, was boarded by pirates when it was en route from Singapore to Songkhla province in southern Thailand.
The pirates, armed with guns and knives, had captured the captain and crew members during the incident before destroying the onboard communications equipment.
The captain and crew members were unharmed.
The tanker, which was transporting 3.8 million litres of diesel, has returned to Thailand and is docked at Noo Island, off Songkhla.
Source: Hellenic Shipping News
The countries of the Middle East are among those most at risk of the rising and potentially severe threats to food security caused by maritime choke points around the world, a report published on Tuesday said.
Climate change, armed conflict and political decisions to close or restrict waterways are delaying or stopping food shipments to countries that are dependent on imports, the study by the UK-based think tank Chatham House warned.
GCC states are among the most exposed to potential food security risks caused by maritime choke points. Kuwait imports 98 per cent of its cereals, with 95 per cent of its maize, wheat and soybean imports passing through at least one choke point. The UAE imports 95 per cent of its cereals, with 94 per cent of these imports passing through a choke point.
For Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE, the Strait of Hormuz – just 48 kilometres across at its narrowest point – is where nearly all grain imports pass through. And, unlike a number of other choke points, there is no alternative route to the Strait of Hormuz as the Arabian Gulf only connects to the Gulf of Oman.
Saudi Arabia is also highly dependent on these imports, but is able to lessen risks slightly as it can take advantage of Red Sea ports and is not solely dependent on the Strait of Hormuz.
Potential food insecurity threats in GCC countries have been brought into sharp focus by the Saudi and Emirati-led campaign to isolate and punish Qatar over what Riyadh and Abu Dhabi say is its support of extremist groups.
Forty per cent of Qatar’s total food imports entered the country overland through its sole land border with Saudi Arabia. With that border now closed, Doha is entirely dependent on food imports arriving by air and, more commonly, sea. And all sea imports must pass through the Strait of Hormuz, making Qatar vulnerable to severe food insecurity.
While the Strait of Hormuz may seem to be the most obviously vulnerable choke point, other sea channels also put the Middle East’s food security at risk.
Egypt’s Suez Canal is just more than 200 metres wide and faces risks from terrorism amid Egypt’s deteriorated security situation and the rise of extremist elements in the Sinai Peninsula. The Bab Al Mandab Strait, which runs between Yemen and Djibouti, was once at major risk from piracy but is today threatened by the war between Iran-backed Houthi forces in Yemen and the internationally recognised government.
Much of the grain making its way to the Middle East comes from the Black Sea, depending on ageing and inefficient Russian rail lines as well as the Turkish Straits, which the report considers to be potentially threatened by political instability in Turkey.
Out of the 14 major global choke points identified by the Chatham House report, only one – the Strait of Gibraltar – has not seen a major disruption in the past 15 years.
“A serious interruption at one or more of these choke points could conceivably lead to supply shortfalls and price spikes, with systemic consequences that could reach beyond food markets,” Chatham House wrote.
To help mitigate the risks caused by choke points, the report recommends that at-risk states build up stockpiles, contribute to improving infrastructure for food transport and, where possible, create alternatives.
Some GCC states have already taken measures to protect themselves. The UAE has established grain silos in Fujairah, allowing shipments to avoid the Strait of Hormuz. Saudi Arabia has worked to build up food infrastructure on its Red Sea coast. And as the campaign against Qatar began, Doha asserted that it had already stockpiled food and could withstand the closure of its land border.
In places such as Yemen, infrastructure development and food stockpiling were never really an option.
After more than two years of civil war, Yemen is one of the world’s most food-insecure countries and is already in the grip of a famine. About 80 per cent of the country’s cereal supply was imported, with half of it passing through choke points. Houthi rebels still control key ports on the Red Sea coast and Arab coalition forces have blockaded shipping to stop arms supplies reaching the rebels.
However, UN officials have blamed this blockade for the famine and have called for its end.
Source: The National