In response to the threats arising from the conflict in Yemen, BIMCO, ICS and INTERTANKO have published interim guidance on maritime security in the southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb. Shipowners and operators should be aware of new threat patterns in the area.

The European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) and the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) have advised that a range of threats other than piracy, such as sea mines and water-borne improvised explosive devices (WBIEDs), are potential risks in the area.

“In response to the urgent need, we have produced this practical guide for Masters and seafarers. This will become a valuable planning tool and should provide some reassurance to our industry,” said Dr Phillip Belcher, INTERTANKO’s Marine Director.

Angus Frew, BIMCO Secretary General and CEO, added: “We’ve been advised that these threats are real, and therefore decided to provide guidance for ships operating in the area. We have seen two incidents in January, and we want to make sure owners and operators are aware and advise their crews accordingly.”

It is important that company security officers and ship Masters are informed of these new threats, as the threat patterns and mitigating measures differ from the more familiar regional threat of piracy.

The guidance stresses the importance of using the Maritime Security Transit Corridor, registration with MSCHOA and reporting to UKMTO, as well as reviewing and updating risk assessments and plans to include these new threats. The guidance also includes advice specific to identified threat types, including WBIEDs and complements the guidance provided in BMP 4.

ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe said: “This guidance supports the activity of military forces in the region, and adds a further layer to the awareness and preparedness of ships in the region.”

He added “That trade continues through these waters demonstrates shipping’s resilience in the face of such threats. The ability of the industry to successfully risk assess dynamic situations in cooperation with State resources and naval operations ensures the continued safety and security of maritime trade”.

Click here to download the guidelines in full.


Dutch Govt Looking into Bill on Armed Guards on board Ships

The Dutch House of Representatives is debating today a bill on the introduction of private security guards on board Dutch merchant ships to protect the vessels and their crews from pirate attacks, especially in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters.

At the moment, when sailing through the high-risk area near Somalia merchant ships are allowed to get protection from a military team through vessel protection detachments (VPD), commissioned by the Ministry of Defense. However, the VPD option often lacks in flexibility, speed and has proven to be a costly option for owners. This has been the case in particular for smaller vessels.

As a result, the owners should be provided with the possibility to hire private security agencies to protect the crews and ships from potential pirate attacks in all circumstances, the Dutch Shipowners Association KVNR says.

According to the bill, proposed by MPs Ten Broeke and Van Halvert, in order to be eligible, a private security firm has to be accredited in accordance with the EU rules.

Shipowner organizations across Europe have criticized the Dutch Government’s slow progress on giving the go-ahead to the carriage of private armed guards on Dutch-flagged ships.

As stressed earlier, the continuing failure to allow private security teams is undermining the competitiveness of the Dutch flag and exposing seafarers to an increased risk of pirates attacks.

In 2017, 136 vessels were boarded across the globe, while there were 22 attempted attacks, 16 vessels fired upon and six vessels hijacked.

In 15 separate incidents, 91 crewmembers were taken hostage and 75 were kidnapped from their vessels in 13 other incidents. Three crewmembers were killed in 2017 and six injured, figures from ICC IMB show.

Source: World Maritime News


Duterte wants China to secure Sulu, Celebes Seas from pirates

MANILA, Philippines – After Malacañang said the Philippines needs China for research in Benham Rise, President Rodrigo Duterte now says Southeast Asia may need China to secure its waters from pirates and terrorists.

Duterte, on Wednesday, January 24, said he might call on China to help guard the Sulu and Celebes Seas, an area frequently used by terrorists for transit across borders or by pirates who kidnap and hold for ransom the crew of passing ships.

Sasabihin ko sa inyo, kung hindi natin kaya (I will tell you, if we can’t hack it), we’ll just have to call China to come in and blow them off just like [in] Somalia,” said Duterte.

He gave a speech before his flight to India to attend the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit with other Southeast Asian leaders.

Duterte said that the Sulu and Celebes Seas, in the western and southern part of the Philippines, are “vacant” or lacking in security, allowing pirates and terrorists to freely pass through.

But he praised China for being instrumental in helping Somalia catch pirates in their seas.

“Were it not for the presence of the Chinese, piracy would not have ended there,” said Duterte.

He also complained about international meetings on security, including the one he was about to participate in in India, with Southeast Asian leaders.

Kung ganito lang naman (If this is all there is to it), so what’s the use of meeting just once a year? And probably the ministerial level, once every 3 months. They cannot accomplish anything,” railed Duterte.

The President repeated his preferred mode of dealing with pirates and terrorists plaguing Southeast Asian waters: blow them up.

“I go for a hardline policy. Blow them up in the high seas. Destroy them. Throw canons at them. Otherwise, if we do not do the extreme measures, we’d always be at the mercy of criminals,” he said.

Duterte and Indonesia President Joko Widodo previously agreed to intensify joint efforts to rid their seas of pirates and terror groups. The Sulu and Celebes Seas are between Indonesia and the Philippines.

Some $40 billion worth of cargo aboard ships pass through the two bodies of water every year, according to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia.

The firebrand Philippine leader has been turning more and more often to China.

The Duterte administration approved Chinese-led maritime scientific research in Benham Rise, trusting Beijing will go by the rules even as it has ignored an international ruling that affirmed Philippine claim over the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippine government also offered to China the lucrative opportunity of helping set up the 3rd telecommunications player in the country.

In return, China has promised grants and loans to help finance the Duterte administration’s infrastructure program.

Source: Rappler



Yemen attacks prompt security tips

Maritime organisations offer guidelines on security in southern Red Sea.

Three major shipping groups are warning against future attacks in the southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb following recent incidents off the coast of Yemen.

Bimco, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and Intertanko have published interim guidance on maritime security in the area, where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden.

The European Union Naval Force and the Combined Maritime Forces have advised that threats other than piracy, including sea mines and water-borne improvised explosive devices (WBIEDs), are potential risks.

Recent incidents include the Iranian-Houthi militia using three remote-controlled drone boats in an attempt to attack a Saudi oil tanker and disrupt navigation in Bab Al Mandeb strait.

Recommendations include using the Maritime Security Transit Corridor and registering with the Maritime Security Centre-Horn of Africa.

The Interim Guidance on Maritime Security in the Southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb is available on the Bimco, ICS and Intertanko websites.

Source: Tradewinds


Ships at Risk from Sea Mines Near Yemen

In response to the threats arising from the conflict in Yemen, BIMCO, ICS and INTERTANKO have published interim guidance on maritime security in the southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb. Shipowners and operators should be aware of new threats in the area, say the organizations. The European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) and the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) have advised that a range of threats other than piracy, such as sea mines and water-borne improvised explosive devices (WBIEDs), are potential risks in the area.


Missiles are long range, accurate and powerful weapons and have been used against military ships in the region. There is no indication that merchant shipping is likely to be deliberately targeted, but there is the risk of misidentification or collateral damage to merchant shipping.

Sea Mines

Sea mines have been used to deter and deny Saudi-led coalition forces access to key ports in Yemen’s southern Red Sea area. Whilst merchant shipping is not the target, sea mines may affect commercial ships using these ports or routeing close to the Yemeni Coastline.

Water-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (WBIED)

An attack involving a WBIED is likely to involve one or more skiffs approaching the merchant ship at high speed firing both small arms and Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs). One or more of the boats may be laden with explosives. On the basis of current understanding it is assessed that merchant shipping is unlikely to be directly targeted by a WBIED, however the risk of collateral damage or misidentification remains.


WBIED attacks have been used against Saudi coalition warships and associated assets such as military supply ships in the southern Red Sea. The MV Muskie (May 31, 2017) and MV Galicia Spirit (October 25, 2016) incidents, which took place in the southern approaches to the Bab al-Mandeb (BAM), highlight a non-piracy attack by groups operating in Southern Yemen. In these incidents there was an explosion during the approach and, likely attempted boarding respectively. This tactic marked a significant departure from Somali piracy and, other incidents associated with the Yemen conflict, and as such the likely intent and perpetrators are not clear.

Two separate incidents on January 6, 2018 approximately 45 nautical miles off the port of Al Hudaydah, Yemen, involved suspicious approaches to two merchant ships by two speed boats carrying armed personnel with optical equipment and one unmanned boat. After the merchant ships undertook evasive action, the speed boats broke off their approach. The speed boats subsequently approached a tanker under escort and the escort vessel engaged the speed boats and destroyed the unmanned vessel.


The guidance stresses the importance of using the Maritime Security Transit Corridor, registration with MSCHOA and reporting to UKMTO, as well as reviewing and updating risk assessments and plans to include these new threats. The guidance also includes advice specific to identified threat types, including WBIEDs and complements the guidance provided in BMP 4.

The Interim Guidance on Maritime Security in the Southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb is available on the BIMCO, ICS and INTERTANKO websites.

Source: The Maritime Executive


Cement carrier repels pirate attack in Gulf of Aden

A VESSEL protected by armed guards has successfully fought off an armed attack in the Gulf of Aden, according to the owner.
The 9,147 dwt NACC Valbella bulk cement carrier was headed from the Suez Canal to Cebu, in the Philippines, when the incident occurred on the evening of January 21.
It was attacked 90 miles southeast of the Yemeni port of Mukalla in the Gulf of Aden, in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor, a route that merchant vessels are advised to navigate along when voyaging the Gulf of Aden.
Nova Marine Carriers, the vessel’s owner, said all the crew were unharmed.
Alexandros Theodosios Kontos, chief operating officer at security services provider LSS, whose special anti -piracy unit armed guards were onboard the Valbella, said a motherboard pulling two skiffs approached the vessel’s bow.
As the NACC Valbella got closer, the motherboard increased its speed, reducing the distance between the two.
Mr Kontos explained that when such motherboards make a bow to bow approach it is to cover the skiffs and then enable them to surround the target and facilitate boarding.
The Valbella’s guards initially fired a flare, Mr Kontos said, but the motherboard continued its approach. The guards then fired an aerial warning shot, to which the assailants responded with shots. The perpetrators fled after the guards fired a second warning shot.
While the revival of Somali piracy remains a concern, the ongoing Yemeni civil war has stoked fears of further violence spilling over into the sea, with the potential of merchant vessels becoming collateral damage or facing terrorist attack.
Mr Kontos said that while he cannot be certain that this was a piracy attack and not a terrorist attempt, terrorists do not desert their plan after a few gunshots and usually engage for much longer.
Source: Lloyd’s List

Guards Repel Pirate Attack on Cement Carrier

On Sunday, embarked maritime security contractors aboard a bulker repelled a pirate attack in the high-risk area off Somalia.

According to maritime security firm LSS-SAPU, the cement carrier NACC Valbella was transiting 90 nm south of Mukallah, Yemen when it was approached by a pirate mother ship. The LSS security unit on board the Valbella lit warning flares, in keeping with their rules of engagement, then fired warning shots. The attacking vessel opened fire, and the guards fired another volley of warning shots. The pirates then abandoned their attack and veered away. The Valbella did not suffer material damage and no injuries were reported.

Somali pirates repatriated

On Friday, Indian authorities deported 41 Somali pirates who were arrested in Indian waters in 2011. The Somali government arranged a charter flight to bring them back to their homeland.

The convicted pirates were among a group of 120 Somalis arrested during the peak of the East Africa piracy epidemic. Most of them were captured by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard off the Lakshadweep Islands, over 1,000 nm to the east of Somali waters. In a series of actions from January to March 2011, Indian units deterred ongoing attacks on the region’s merchant shipping, capturing scores of pirates and freeing more than 50 hostages aboard pirate mother ships.

These pirates were taken to the Indian mainland and imprisoned pending trial. Three died in jail, and last year, the remaining 117 suspects were sentenced to time served followed by deportation. All are scheduled to be sent back to Somalia by the end of next month. “Another 76 will be released in two batches on February 15 and 23 and will be sent back to their home country,” said lawyer Vishwajeet Singh, their appointed representative, speaking to the Mumbai Mirror.

“The offenders have been given a lesson that in India there is rule of law and that the offenders are brought to justice,” special public prosecutor Ranjeet Sangle told the Times of India at the time of the sentencing. “From 2011, since the pirates were arrested, the entire piracy operation in the western waters of India has come down.”

Source: The Maritime Executive


US to work with Indonesia on maritime security, counter-terrorism

The United States wants to work with Indonesia, as the maritime fulcrum of the Indo-Pacific, to ensure that the rule of law and freedom of navigation is upheld in the region, said US Defence Secretary James Mattis in Jakarta on Tuesday (Jan 23).

“The maritime fulcrum of the Indo-Pacific area is critical and as we can help in maintaining the maritime domain awareness in the South China Sea, the North Natuna Sea, this is something that we look forward to do,” said Mr Mattis.

The former commander of the US Central Command was speaking to reporters in Jakarta after a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Ryamizard Ryacudu, a fellow four-star general.

He added that Asean, which Indonesia is a founding member of, remains central to peace in the region and the US shares its desire for all nations to prosper “regardless of the size of the nations”.

Mr Mattis also acknowledged Indonesia’s efforts in fighting extremism, saying the country has “done a very good job (on counter-terrorism) over the last ten years. We know we can learn a lot from them and we must work together on this larger problem”.

He said that US support for those efforts will now include Special Forces units that conduct counter-terrorism.

Mr Mattis is in Jakarta as part of a week-long tour of South-east Asia, which also includes a stop in Vietnam, just days ahead of the 50th aniversary of the launch of the Tet Offensive – one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War – in January 1968.

He told reporters earlier on the flight from Washington to Jakarta, that martime security cooperation in view of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, will be among the issues he hopes to discuss in Hanoi.

“I need to hear more about how they see things developing as they maintain sovereignty over their territorial waters and economic zone that they maintain oversight of,” he said.

“Obviously, we want to know what level of engagement they want with us. Is it professional military education, is it joint training? I want to sit down and just talk with them, get a better sense of the pragmatic steps that we can take as we move the relationship forward into one of trust and collaboration.”

His visit to South-east Asia is in line with a key focus of a broad national security strategy unveiled last Friday in Washington which centres on building partnerships and strengthening alliances.

Indonesia has clashed with China over fishing rights around the Natuna Islands, detaining Chinese fishermen and expanding its military presence in the area in recent years.

In July, Indonesia renamed the northern reaches of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea, a move seen as a significant act of resistance to China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea.

Vietnam on the other hand has emerged as one of the most vocal opponents of China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea, where more than US$3 trillion (S$4 trillion) in cargo passes every year, reported Reuters.

Mr Ryamizard said apart from security in the South China Sea, he and Mr Mattis also discussed North Korea, the Rohingya crisis, and militants in southern Philippines with ties to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

He also welcomed Mr Mattis’ offer of assistance in counter-terrorism, saying: “America’s tools are much more sophisticated, we need the help.”

Source: Straits Times


JRC orders 4,314 ex-militants to prepare for attacks on installations

The Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC), a coalition of armed groups in the Niger Delta, has informed 4,314 ex-militants to be prepared to renege on the terms of the Presidential Amnesty they embraced in 2008.

JRC spokesman, Cynthia Whyte, in statement to newsmen, threatened that the group will cripple oil production and ground the economy.

Whyte said the ex-militants are worried over moves to replace the Special Adviser and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Brig-Gen Paul Boroh, and hijack the office to settle vested political interests.

Whyte said the central leadership of Command of the JRC believes that the action to replace Brig-Gen Paul Boroh “yet again represents a renewed attempt by unpopular, disgruntled and divisive politicians from the Niger Delta, who have never supported the amnesty programme to hijack the programme and undermine a legacy of the agitating people of the Niger Delta.”

He declared that any attempt to play politics with the issue of the region “will be firmly and vehemently resisted by combatant units scattered across the length and breadth of the Niger Delta.”

JRC also took a swipe at Niger Deltans in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, accusing the administration of not having the interests of the people at heart.

“If you seek peace in the Niger Delta, it must be worked for. We will never be cowed by the intentions of the ungodly. We have worked hard to keep the peace,” it said.

“Nothing stops us at this moment from breaking everything into pieces. We reject the antics of these failed, disgruntled and unpopular politicians and we declare that we will never be part of any engagement that includes them. It will never happen.

“The amnesty programme is not a parade ground where retired military officers can be quickly conscripted to command former combatants of the Niger Delta struggle.

“We believe that any such appointment will be a grave miscalculation and a recipe for crisis, failure, chaos and anarchy, especially as the journey to an election year begins.

“We, therefore, call on President Muhammadu Buhari to begin series of strong engagement across the Niger Delta with a view to selecting and recruiting capable, and tested trusted hands who will be acceptable to our people, useful to the Presidency and capable of making new friends for the president in the region.”

Source: Daily Post


Sea Robbers Attack, Kill Two Marine Policemen in Bayelsa

Gunmen believed to sea pirates have carried out an attack on a Marine Police Base at a waterfront in Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s country home local council headquarters of Ogbia Local council area of Bayelsa resulting in the death of some policemen.

Saharareporters gathered that the gunmen also went away with two 200 horse Power engines on the gunboats belonging to the police after the attack.

Lyodd Sese, Chairman of the Bayelsa state chapter of the Nigeria Maritime Workers Union who confirmed the incident says the gunmen stormed the area at about 10pm last night and operate till about 1:30 this morning.

Police authorities are yet to confirm the latest attack as violent crimes have increased in the region since the beginning of 2018 as political activities get underway.

Source: Sahara Reporters

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