Against a backdrop of 76 cases of armed robbery and piracy against ships in Asia, the government has issued a security advisory for shipowners, managers and others to exercise caution while treading on international waters, including Sulu-Celebes Seas. A total of 76 incidents, including four of piracy and 72 of robbery, occurred in 2018, according to the advisory, which quoted a report on ‘Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia’ by the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP).
The Directorate General of Shipping in the maritime security advisory last week asked shipowners and masters of the ships, among other stakeholders, to “be extra cautious and follow the practices and take necessary precautionary measures” to avert any such incident. “As per the ReCAAP report, the threat of abduction of the crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas has not been eliminated and remains a severe threat in the area. Until December 2018, a total of 66 crew have been abducted in this region, of which 49 have been released/ rescued, 7 killed and 10 still in captivity,” the advisory said.
Quoting the report, it said as there is still a threat of abduction of the crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off eastern Sabah, an alert has already been issued to all ships to re-route from the area, where possible. “Alternatively, ship masters and crew are strongly urged to exercise extra vigilance while transiting the area, and report immediately to the Operation Centres of the Philippines and Eastern Sabah Security Command of Malaysia,” it said.
The advisory said though the 2018 report published by the International Maritime Bureau-Piracy Reporting Centre does not indicate the number of Indian seafarers affected by these security incidents, the report indicates that one Indian registered vessel, as well as eight vessels that were controlled and managed in India as a part of the statistics, were affected by these incidents. The advisory mentions that a total of three attacks have been reported near the Nigerian Coast (South of Brass) in 2019.
It said about seven armed pirates have been reported in this area so far this year using a small craft and skiff with outboard engines with a purpose to attack vessels in the vicinity. “The pirates are often well-armed, violent and have attacked, hijacked and robbed vessels/kidnapped crew in their waters, with attacks having been reported up to 170 nm (nautical miles) from the coast,” it added.
Earlier, the government has set up an inter-ministerial group under the Ministry of Shipping to deal with the hostage situation arising out of hijacking at sea of merchant’s vessels with Indian crew. The government had also approved the contingency plan for dealing with piracy and hijacking of merchant ships and constituted a Committee of Secretaries on Anti-Piracy and Hijacking at sea under the chairmanship of the cabinet secretary.
Source: HELLENIC SHIPPING NEWS
Source: Gray Page
February 27th marks 15 years after the bombing of the ‘SuperFerry 14’, the deadliest terrorist attack in Philippines, which killed a total of 116 people. The blast occurred on 27 February 2004 in Manila Bay, claiming the title of the world’s deadliest terrorist attack at sea until today.
At 11 pm on 27 February 2004, the 10,192-ton ferry departed from Manila for Cagayan de Oro City, carrying 899 passengers and crew onboard.
An hour after departure, just off either El Fraile or Corregidor Island, an explosion onboard started a fire that engulfed the ship. Captain Ceferino Manzo issued the order for abandonment at about 1:30 a.m.
As the fire spread across the vessel, most of the survivors jumped into the sea or boarded rescue boats. The vessel eventually sank.
A total of 116 people, including 114 passengers and two crew members, lost their lives in the blast.
The recovery of bodies lasted for months, with only four bodies recovered by Coast Guard divers from the half-submerged ferry in the first week, despite it having been towed to shallower waters near Mariveles town, west of Manila. About another 12 bodies were recovered in the following days.
Eventually, 63 bodies were recovered while another 53 remained unaccounted for, presumed dead.
According to officials, the missing were probably trapped inside the blazing ferry and drowned.
The blast was initially considered as an accident, caused by a gas explosion, although several terrorist groups rushed to claim responsibility shortly after. Among these terrorist groups was the Jihadist militant group Abu Sayyaf, but the President of Philippines at that time, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said that the group’s claims of bombing the Superferry 14 did ‘not hold water’.
However, testimonies by survivors -including Capt. Manzo – after the tragedy, as well as inspection by the divers later, all showed evidence of a bomb blast. As such, five months after the sinking, the scenario of a terrorist attack came officially on the surface: The President announced on 11 October 2004, that the explosion had been caused by a bomb.
According to officials, a man named Redondo Cain Dellosa confessed to planting a bomb onboard for the al- Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf group. He held a ticket on the ferry for bunk 51B, where the bomb was placed, and disembarked before the ship’s departure. The explosives were stored inside an emptied-out TV set.
Redondo Cain Dellosa was a member of the Rajah Sulaiman Movement, an organization in the Philippines, founded by Ahmed Santos in 1991. Its membership consisted of Filipino Christians who had converted to Islam.
Along with Dellosa’s confession, six more suspects were arrested in connection with the bombing, but the masterminds, Khadaffy Janjalani and Abu Sulaiman, were still at large.
It was believed that Abu Sayyaf bombed Superferry 14 because the company that owned it, WG&A, did not comply with a letter demanding $1 million in protection money in 2003. Khadaffy Janjalani and Abu Sulaiman died from gun shots, in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
Actions taken since then
The incident occurred only a few months before the entry into force of the International Ship and Port Security code (ISPS). The ISPS came into force on 1st July 2004, under SOLAS chapter XI-2, as a response to the September 11th attacks, and forming the basis of a comprehensive mandatory security regime for international shipping.
Under the ISPS Code, SOLAS contracting governments, port authorities and shipping companies are required to designate appropriate security officers and personnel, on each ship, port facility and shipping company.
These security officers, designated Port Facility Security Officers (PFSOs), Ship Security Officers (SSOs) and Company Security Officers (CSOs), are responsible for assessing, as well as preparing and implementing effective security plans that are able to manage any potential security threat.
Supporters of the ISPS-code could say that the code has been successful since there have been no serious maritime terrorist attacks since its implementation.
Date:26th February 2019
REF Warning 002/FEB/2019 On 26th February 2019 at approximately 0830UTC an SY was approached in position 1256N 04817E by 1 skiff and closed to within 1NM, ladder sighted.
21.02.2019: 0016 UTC
Posn : 02:59.5N – 005:56.6E
Around 80nm SW Off Bayelsa, Nigeria.
Around four to six armed pirates in a speed boat chased and fired upon a container vessel underway. Alarm raised and non-essential crew mustered in the citadel. Due to evasive manoeuvres, the boarding was evaded. Nigerian Navy notified. Vessel and crew reported safe.
In its weekly report for 12-18 February, ReCAAP ISC informed of one incident of armed robbery against ship in Asia, involving the Singaporean-flagged bulk carrier ‘RTM Dampier’ while anchored at Caofeidian East Anchorage, China.
According to data provided by ReCAAP ISC, while at anchor, a perpetrator boarded the ship. The 2nd Officer sighted from the port bridge wings that the port low sulphur diesel oil (LSDO) tank manhole was opened and there was a hose connected to the tank. Over the port ship side, he saw a small unlit barge. He immediately alerted the master and chief officer.
The duty A/B who was making his security rounds was also alerted to check on the port side. The perpetrator removed the hose from the tank immediately and jumped into the barge when his presence was discovered. Following the incident, a search on the ship was conducted. There were no other perpetrators found onboard the ship. 67 metric tonnes of LSDO was reported stolen.
The report informs about another incident outside Asia, involving the Singaporean-flagged container ship ‘Ever Diadem’.
While the ship was en route to Mombasa, Kenya, the master noticed via the radar a suspicious vessel without approved identification system (AIS) at his vessel’s port bow. The master monitored the suspicious vessel although it did not appear to show any signs of attempt to come near the ship.
About 20 minutes later, the suspicious vessel started to move at small angle, followed by changing its course to starboard side and increased its speed and was sighted to approach the ship’s route.
The master immediately increased speed of ship, adjusted his course and closely monitored the suspicious vessel. The general alarm was sounded and all crew were notified. The crew closed all access to the accommodation, started fire pump and activated anti-piracy watch.
The suspicious vessel subsequently stopped its pursuit. The suspicious vessel was believed to be the mother vessel as there was a small boat sighted near it.
At about 1246 hrs (local time), the master reported sighting of a second suspicious vessel on its starboard bow. However, the vessel did not show signs of attempt to come near the ship. The crew checked the surrounding and four hours later, the ship was cleared of suspicious vessels.
“The ReCAAP ISC urges ship master and crew to report all incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships to the nearest coastal State and flag State, exercise vigilance and adopt relevant preventive measures taking reference from the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.”
On 24th Feb 2019 at approximately 0715Z a Merchant Vessel in position: 1216007N 0440304E was approached by 4 skiffs with 4 POB each, two port side and two on starboard side. The AST on board presented its firearms but the skiffs continues to approach the vessel. When the AST pointed their weapons for warning shots the skiffs altered their course. Ladders, hooks and weapons were sighted on each skiff. UKMTO has been advised. Crew and Vessel are safe.
Source: SAPU on safeguarded vessel in HRA
Stakeholders in Rivers State have called on the security operatives to deploy more gunboats to Bonny waterways to curb incessant pirate attacks on sea travellers.
The stakeholders also expressed fears that going by the spate of attacks along the routes by the criminals, many eligible voters may be disenfranchised during the general elections, as they may not be able to travel to their voting points to cast their votes.
They told The Tide that the men of the underworld had attacked travellers along the route twice last week and carted alway property worth millions of naira.
A safety officer attached to Bonny Maritime Transport Association (BMTA), Mr. Donatus Kingsley said in space of three days, pirates attacked Bonny bound boats and stole three boat engines from the drivers and made away with huge cash.
According to him, commuters along the route find it very difficult to travel to Bonny due to these incessant attacks by sea robbers.
He feared that those who are eligible to cast their votes for candidates of their choice in the area may not be able to travel due to fears of attacks and robbery by sea robbers.
He called for the deployment of more security personnel to the waterways to ease their movement
The safety officer also appealed for the regularly patrol of the routes and the waterways before and after the 2019 general elections in order to secure the waterways and save lives and property from the hands of the hoodlums.
“The pirates are really making lives very difficult for travellers and water users along Bonny axis, government should please deploy security operatives to safeguard the drivers and the commuters plying the routes,” he said.
Similarly, the Rivers State Police Command has expressed dismay over the pirate attacks along Bonny routes by sea robbers, last week.
Spokesman of the Command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni said the command was poised at safeguarding lives and property at the trouble route.
Source: Maritime Security Review
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday urged the governments of Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia to work in close partnership against maritime piracy.
Duterte made the appeal during the 9th anniversary of the Mindanao Development Authority and the 25th anniversary of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) in Davao City Tuesday evening.
“I call upon the BIMP-EAGA. We are doing commerce. Our navies must be vigilant. We have to be one in our patrols,” he said.
In his speech, Duterte ordered the military to purge the Abu Sayyaf militant group, known for engaging in kidnap-for-ransom operations, from its strongholds.
“If there are pirates in our territory or in the high seas, my orders are blast them to kingdom come. Just the same, they are arrested, they go to prison, you do not have witnesses because the victims are… Once they are freed, they would not even wait for a minute to issue a statement to go home because they are scared. So justice seems to be an illusion, it’s a mirage actually floating in the seas,” according to him.
“So these pirates, they have no souls, I assure you just like me. I am telling the military forces, finish them off,” he concluded.
Source: Maritime Security Review
Piracy and armed robbery at sea have long been regarded as a threat to international peace and security. But other types of maritime crime are just as significant.
The African Union’s (AU) 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy identifies numerous relevant transnational organised crimes, including: illegal arms and drug trafficking; illegal oil bunkering/crude oil theft along African coasts; maritime terrorism; human trafficking; and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and overfishing.
These crimes cannot be dealt with unilaterally. African states are increasingly realising that enforcing the law and securing the seas requires concerted transnational and multilateral collaboration.
Transnational maritime crime should make African countries nervous. They are acutely vulnerable given the number of crimes threatening them, their limited ability to prevent or respond to them, and their growing transnational nature and sophistication.
“Transnational maritime crime should make African countries nervous”
These offences are committed by organised criminal groups engaging in multiple, interlinked and international crimes, regardless of borders. Profits from these enterprises are used to diversify or enhance operations. The failure to prevent or punish maritime crimes means the sea is becoming a place where risk is low and reward is great.
The United Nations (UN) Security Council, encouraged by its three non-permanent African members (the A3), has recently become the leading forum for determining how best to fight maritime crime. This complements decades of work undertaken by other UN agencies.
Earlier this month, the UN Security Council debated the threat posed by transnational organised crime at sea. The 5 February meeting was organised and chaired by Equatorial Guinea’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Simeón Oyono Esono Angue, the UN Security Council president for February 2019. The Executive Secretary of the Gulf of Guinea Commission briefed the gathering, as did the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
This builds on other recent discussions, for example the one Côte d’Ivoire initiated at the UN Security Council on 18 December 2018 on the threat drug trafficking poses to stability in West Africa. On 13 June last year an Arria Formula meeting was co-organised by Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, the Netherlands and the United States to discuss the threat maritime crime poses to international peace and security.
“Unifying AU and UN efforts could be just what is needed to tackle transnational crime at sea”
African states taking a leading role on the UN Security Council is a welcome shift from the lamentable seablindness that has prevailed on the continent. ‘Seablindness’ refers to the general lack of interest in the importance of the seas and of humanity’s dependency on their safe, secure and sustainable usage.
The International Maritime Bureau’s 2019 Annual Report of Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships at Sea shows the increasing sophistication of the threat and the growing transnational nature of maritime crime’s scope and impact.
Reported attacks against shipping in the waters between Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo more than doubled from 37 incidents in 2017 to 79 in 2018. Some of these are petty incidents of theft in port, rather than piracy as defined by the law of the sea, but the total includes six hijackings, the taking of 130 hostages and 78 seafarers being kidnapped for ransom.
Kidnapping has become a lucrative crime. Four hijackings close to the Port of Cotonou in early 2018 show both a preparedness to hijack in or just outside ostensibly safer territorial waters and anchorages of a state, and the ease with which hijackers can sail the ship and crew away. Some gangs strike quickly and widely. In a few hours just outside Cameroonian territorial waters on 23 November 2018, 18 people were kidnapped from five vessels.
The number of kidnappings-for-ransom and reported assaults in the ports, anchorages and territorial waters of West African coastal states and on the high seas, is increasing. This shows the ability of maritime criminal networks to shift and diversify their modus operandi.
“It is worrying that maritime security is seldom debated at the AU’s Peace and Security Council”
An alleged Nigerian piracy leader was arrested in South Africa late last year through good police work and cooperation enabled by Interpol. This couldn’t have happened without sound transnational cooperation. More of this kind of policing can lead to further arrests of suspects linked to illegal fishing, drug and human trafficking and dumping at sea.
South Africa has now joined Côte d’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea as the A3’s newest member on the UN Security Council. It is also subject to many maritime crimes, such as drug trafficking and abalone poaching, and stands to benefit from enhanced international responses. South Africa must continue the A3’s momentum gained over recent years in the fight against maritime crime.
Despite the prominent role African countries are playing, it is worrying that maritime crime and security is seldom debated at the AU’s Peace and Security Council. Maritime security was last discussed in 2017, and despite regular meetings, too few new initiatives are being launched. Transnational organised maritime crime should be considered, especially because it’s now on the UN Security Council’s agenda.
The AU and regional economic communities have created an impressive array of strategies, codes and instruments to address maritime crime, but their implementation is falling behind. Unifying the efforts of the UN and AU could have just the sort of impact needed to strengthen the fight against transnational crime at sea.
Source: Maritime Security Review