Indonesian navy finds missing tanker

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 — The tanker MT Pratama 128 that was missing since Sunday has been found off the coast of Pulau Rupat by the Indonesian navy.

Berita Harian reported Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abu Bakar as saying initial investigations have determined that the ship was being operated by its crew.

“The ship was located at the border of Tanjung Piai harbour (in Pulau Rupat) and was monitored by radar and patrol vessels. We believe the ship’s crew may have tried to take advantage when the patrol vessels returned to the jetty,” he said, adding neither robbery nor piracy have been discovered to be a factor in its disappearance.

“MMEA’s  cooperation with the Indonesian navy led to finding the vessel, and we are now negotiating to bring it back. We will also continue working with the Indonesian navy in determining why the tanker attempted to flee,” Zulkifli said.

The tanker is being detained by MMEA under the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952.

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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Cops seek to determine if kidnap group was involved in trawler shooting

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah police are trying to ascertain if a kidnap for ransom group or pirates were involved in the shooting of a fishing trawler in the waters off Sabah’s Kinabatangan.

Sabah deputy police commissioner Datuk Razarudin Husain said, however, that police do not believe that the gunmen in black fatigues, who shot at the trawler on Thursday (Feb 22), were linked to militants.

“We suspect that it could have been ‘sea robbers’ or a kidnap for ransom group from the neighbouring islands. We are still investigating,” he told reporters at the Kepayan police headquarters here on Saturday.

The incident occurred 11 nautical miles from Kuala Segama in eastern Sabah, close to the southern Philippine island of Taganak.

According to Kinabatangan police chief Supt Sahat Rahmat, five gunmen in a pump boat had approached the fishermen, who were reeling in their fishing nets, at about 4.30pm on Thursday.

It is understood that the 48-year-old skipper and his four crew men, aged between 19 and 40, were signalled by the gunmen to stop.

“As they (gunmen) came about eight metres alongside the trawler, a crew member saw one of the gunmen ordering them to stop while another gunman raised a long gun and fired a shot at the boat,” Supt Sahat said, adding that the crew had then fled to hide in the engine room.

The gunmen then moved towards the front of the boat and fired twice at the roof before moving to the rear of the trawler and continuing to shoot.

The trawler’s skipper then cut off the boat’s fishing nets and sped the vessel back towards Sandakan while the gunmen, who continued firing, stopped their pursuit and sailed away.

None of the crew were hurt in the incident. However, the trawler was slightly damaged from the gunshots.

Source: The Star Online

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Two ships attacked off Nigeria on same day

Reefer and containership are the latest vessels to be targeted by pirates in Gulf of Guinea.

Pirates have targeted two commercial ships off the coast of Nigeria in two separate incidents less than five hours apart, according to authorities.

Both incidents took place on Saturday and occurred between 40nm to 50nm south-south-west of Bonny Island, according to reports from the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre.

In the first incident around eight armed pirates in a speed boat chased an unnamed container vessel while it was underway.

Reports say the alarm was raised, the ship security alarm system (SSAS) was activated and all non-essential crew retreated to the ship’s citadel.

As the pirate boat closed with the container ship the vessel began to take evasive manoeuvres.

The vessel had also deployed ‘hardening’ measures and the pirates were unable to hook their ladder to ship’s side, the IMB said.

The attackers are said to have eventually broken off their attempt to board and the container ship was met by a Nigerian Navy escort.

In the second incident around 10 pirates in a speed boat, armed with automatic weapons, are reported to have chased and fired upon a reefer vessel while it was also underway.

“The armed guards onboard the vessel returned fire, resulting in the pirates aborting the attach and moving away. All crew safe. Vessel sustained minor damage due to the firing,” the IMB said.

“There have been at least 75 recorded piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea in the six months to February 2018, most of them off Nigeria,” said UK-based security consultancy Grey Page.

“Attacks typically involve small boats coming alongside while the pirates attempt to board.

“The attackers are often armed and violent and in the most serious cases seafarers have been seized as hostages.”

Grey Page said all waters in and off Nigeria and in the wider Gulf of Guinea should be seen as dangerous.

With most attacks take place at night, vessels are advised to minimise time spent in anchorages and to avoid slow steaming while underway.

Source: Tradewinds

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Two Guards Injured in Pirate Attack Off Benin

On Tuesday, the government of Luxembourg reported that the product tanker ST Marseille was attacked by five armed pirates at an anchorage off Cotonou, Benin. The pirates succeeded in boarding the vessel, and two Beninese guards sustained gunshot wounds in the exchange.

The ST Marseille had no cargo on board at the time of the attack, and the pirates eventually gave up and departed. The crew are unharmed and are all accounted for. Both guards have received medical attention and are in stable condition.

The ST Marseille is a Luxembourg-flagged tanker operated by French firm ST Management SAS. She has no inspection history.

Hijackings and kidnappings are a routine risk in the Gulf of Guinea, and the attack on the ST Marseille is just the latest in a string of incidents off Benin:

– On January 10, the product tanker MT Barrett went missing from an anchorage off Benin and was not heard from for two days. She had been hijacked and her crew held hostage, and the pirates contacted the shipowner to make arrangements for their return on January 12. After several days of negotiations, they were released unharmed, and the Barrett was allowed to go on her way.

– On February 1, the tanker Marine Express and her 22 crewmembers went missing from an anchorage off Cotonou. The vessel was held for several days and released unharmed.

The problems at Cotonou’s anchorage are relatively new, but according to the IMB ICC piracy report, attacks off the Niger Delta continue unabated:

– On February 24, eight armed pirates in a speedboat pursued a container ship 50 nm south of Bonny Island, Nigeria. Thanks to vessel hardening they were not able to hook on a boarding ladder, and they abandoned the attempt.

– On the same day, about 40 nm off the Bonny fairway buoy, ten pirates in a speedboat opened fire on a reefer under way. Embarked guards returned fire and the attackers abandoned the attempt.

– On February 18, about 40 nm off Brass, seven pirates in a speedboat opened fire on a tanker under way. Due to vessel hardening they were not able to board, and they broke off the attempt.

Source: The Maritime Executive

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Suspicious approach – Near IRTC point B

A Merchant Vessel was approached in position: 1347N 05113E at 0635UTC on 27 FEB 2018 by 10 skiffs. Two warning flares fired from SAPU onboard, Vessel increased speed and started evasive maneuvers. The suspected PAG altered to a nearby vessel where AST onboard responded with waning flare. Japan Navy informed and intervened with helicopter.

Source: SAPU onboard safeguarded vessel in HRA.

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Malaysian coastguard hunts two alleged Indonesian pirates

The Malaysian Coastguard is hunting two alleged Indonesian nationals, who hijacked and robbed a Thai-flagged ship “MT MGT 1,” after receiving a red notice from the Interpol.

“Following a red notice from the Interpol, we are hunting Udin Jawi and Arjuna,” Head of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Faridah binti Shuib, stated in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

Jawi and Arjuna were identified as Indonesian passport holders after an investigation held by the Interpol, according to the MT MGT 1 ship crew`s testimonies.

According to the investigation, the two Indonesians were suspected, along with other five people who were all wearing masks and bearing weapons, of robbery on Sept 4, 2017.

Shuib has called for anyone who has information or can acknowledge those names to call the Malaysian Maritime Criminal Inquiry with Lieutenant Commander Mohd Faizal bin Abdul Rahman at 03-89957813 in Putrajaya or other related office in each state.

The hijack occurred when the Thai tanker, loaded with more than 1.7 million metric tons of diesel oil, entered Malaysian water on Sept 6, 2017, at around 8:30 p.m., after departing from Rayong Harbor on Sept 4.

The tanker, which was owned by Global Transport Company Ltd, was manned by 14 Thai crew members, who were reported to be safe.

Source: Antara News

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Bill proposes an armed force to fight terrorism, maritime crime

Kenya could soon have an armed force that will predominantly operate in the high seas with orders to fight pirates, drug and gun traffickers, terrorists and other maritime criminals.

The Kenya Coast Guard Service will also be deployed alongside Kenya Defence Forces to protect the country in times of war.

However, the force will only come into existence when Parliament passes a law establishing it.

Kenyans have until Monday to submit views on the bill to the clerk of the National Assembly.

According to the bill, individuals who have served in the police force, intelligence and military will form the rank and file of the Coast Guard.

Professionals will also be seconded to the guard from the Public Service Commission.

REPLACE POLICE

The bill, sponsored by the government through National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, lists other functions of the service, which could see its personnel replace police at ports.

It says coast guards will be deployed “for port and coastal security, prosecuting maritime offenders, protecting archeological or historical objects or sites, enforcing sanitation measures and enforcing pollution control”.

The service, according to the bill, will have powers that, at the moment, are enjoyed by police, military and the National Intelligence Service.

“The service, within territorial waters, shall have the power to stop, enter and board, search and inspect any structure, place, vessel or aircraft engaged in or suspected to be engaged in any unlawful activity,” the proposed law says.

The Coast Guard will also have powers to investigate and arrest suspected offenders.

However, arrested people “must be handed over to the National Police Service as soon as it is practicable”.

COAST GUARD

This means Coast Guard officers will be allowed to detain and interrogate suspects.

It will also have a council that will be the service’s top decision- making organ.

The council will consist of the attorney-general, chief of defence forces, inspector-general of police, the director-general of the National Intelligence Service and cabinet secretaries in charge of security, finance, defence, transport, fisheries and environment.

A technical committee comprising principal secretaries from the ministries will also be formed to help in running the service.

Politicians will be locked out of the force.

Though the service is expected to be a maritime security organisation, it will be distinct from Kenya Navy, the Maritime Authority and the Maritime Police Unit.

Its officers will be deployed at the Indian Ocean, Lake Victoria and other places.

The Cabinet approved the bill in September 2017. The bill was mooted to give the country a specialised law-enforcement agency to deal with maritime issues.

ILLEGAL

The navy handles such matters but is not legally and operationally equipped.

The Kenya Maritime Authority, which was established through a presidential order in 2004, lacks powers to enforce laws.

Kenya has a long coastline, which borders countries such as lawless Somalia, and runs more than 600 kilometres into the high seas.

Kenya loses Sh10 billion annually due to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in its waters and exclusive economic zones.

It is estimated that the worldwide value of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing catches stands at $9 billion (Sh900 billion).

In the absence of coast guards, Kenya has been relying on the wellbeing of international partners who deploy naval forces in the Indian Ocean.

The forces were deployed at the height of piracy and have also been instrumental in intercepting boats transporting cocaine, heroin and other drugs.

Source: Daily Nation

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EU NAVFOR confirms MT Leopard Sun attacked 160 nautical miles off the central coast of Somalia.

On 23rd February at 0030 local time, the Motor Tanker Leopard Sun was attacked by two skiffs 160 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia.

The Singapore flagged 50,000 metric tonne chemical tanker was en route from Sohar, Sultanate of Oman to Cape Town, South Africa when the incident occurred. The skiffs approached the MT Leopard Sun from the stern and fired upon her, after which the on-board Private Armed Security Team returned fire with warning shots. The incident lasted approximately 20 minutes before the skiffs eventually turned away.

The crew employed the full range of Best Management Practices (BMP4) as well as the actions of the embarked private armed security team (PAST). EU NAVFOR can confirm the vessel and crew are now safe.

EU NAVFOR has been in contact with the shipping company and the ship’s master to further assess the incident. It is clear the ship, crew and the security team demonstrated a very high standard of self-protection protocols in line with BMP4. The reporting of the incident to UKMTO/ EU NAVFOR MSCHOA was exemplary in both speed and detail, including the damage to the ship from gunfire from the skiffs.

EU NAVFOR MSCHOA issued navigation warnings and alerts to inform both mariners and merchant vessels in the High Risk Area, and the wider shipping industry of the attack. Merchant vessels in the proximity of the location where the incident took place have been warned directly of the existence of a potential Pirate Action Group (PAG).

EU NAVFOR and CMF together with military partners will continue to coordinate their understanding and response to this incident. This attack, which is likely to be piracy related, was the first such incident since the attack on the MV EVER DYNAMIC in November 2017.

Source: EU NAVFOR

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‘Saboteurs stall $195m maritime security contract’

The Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has alleged that some saboteurs are frustrating moves by the Federal Government to protect Nigerian waters through the $195 million (about N70.2 billion) contract signed a year ago. Amaechi had in May last year announced that President Mohammadu Buhari had consented to the contract and approved the funds to procure security equipment to combat sea crime.

The fund is meant to acquire three helicopters, three aircrafts, three big battle-ready ships, 12 vessels and 20 amphibious cars to combat the menace of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. The contract had been approved to an Israeli security firm, but it has rather become a mirage.

Amaechi, who spoke at the maritime stakeholders’ interactive forum organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in Warri, Delta State, yesterday, alleged that some government officials, and “people making money from water” are sabotaging government’s effort in restoring peace on the nation’s troubled waters.

He said: “For ship owners, you need to do a petition to the president, you need to behave like an activist. The president approved a contract of $195million and there are people in the system sabotaging that contract. The contract is to restore security in the nation’s waters.”He threatened to disclose the names of those behind the sabotage if pushed to the wall.

“I won’t say who they are until it gets out of control. We are still battling for the contract to take place, but if it gets out of hand, we will name them, including the security people.

“These are people who make billions of dollars from the waters so they don’t want security on the waters, because if we secure the waters, all this rubbish will go. We need to ask ourselves what happened to an approval that was given about two years ago by the president.’’

Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, commended the state on the relative peace at the Eastern Ports and pledged to continue to build confidence and maintain partnership with the host communities.She also promised to continue to partner and consult with stakeholders in the quest to develop the shipping sector.

Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, said the stakeholders should collaborate to drive growth in the sector and key into the national goal of employment generation.Bello also emphasised that there should be concerted efforts to increase the contributions of maritime sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.

Speaking on the theme: “Ease of doing business in a secured maritime environment”, Chairman, Ship owners Forum, Mrs. Margaret Onyema- Orakwusi, urged the Federal Government to improve security in the nation’s territorial water to restore investors’ confidence in the sector.

Orakwusi also charged the government oversee the establishment of maritime bank for the resuscitation of shipping business in Nigeria, adding that a maritime bank with single interest rate would help develop the sector.

Source: The Guardian

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Somali pirates shoot at Leopard tanker

Suspected Somali pirates have exchanged fire with an armed security team onboard a Leopard Tankers ship in what is believed to be the first incident in the region this year.

Shots were fired from pirates in three skiffs at the 50,000-dwt Leopard Sun (built 2013) last night 165 nautical miles from the Somalian town of Hobyo.

A security team onboard the tanker, owned by the Vitol and Grindrod joint-venture, shot back and the ship is now reported to be safe.

Piracy experts say this is the first reported incident off the Somali coast since last November, when a group of pirates was arrested and taken to the Seychelles.

They explain that a night-time attack is rare and investigations are now underway to better understand the level of threat posed by the group.

It comes at a time when the seas off Somali are becoming calmer after the monsoon season, making conditions easier for would be pirates.

The Leopard Sun was en route from Bahrain to Cape Town when the incident occurred.

Source: Tradewinds

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