On 23 of September at approx. 12:00 LT, seven masked-men armed with high powered firearms such as M16, RPG and pistols; believed to be members of the Kidnap for Ransom Group (KFRG) in Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) abducted three Indonesian crew from a Malaysian fishing boat. The fishing boat was in the vicinity waters of Tambisan Island, Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia when the perpetrators boarded the fishing boat from two pump boats. The perpetrators then fled towards Tawi-tawi Island, Philippines. The Malaysia and Philippine authorities are stepping up its patrol efforts, conducting pursuit operations and intensifying its military operation to rescue the abducted crew and neutralize the militant group.
Source: Maritime Security Review, ReCAAP
The curfew in the waters off seven districts in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone), which ends on Monday, has been extended until Oct 8, said Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah.
He said the curfew, from 6pm to 6am, coveres the waters off Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan and Beluran.
“Those living in the affected areas should remain indoors; while outsiders will not be allowed to enter the waters there between 6pm and 6am.”
Omar said the curfew is being extended to ensure the safety of international researchers and tourists at resort islands in the area, which in the past have come under terrorist attack.
“It is also to ensure the safety and well-being of Sabahans in the ESSZone.” he said in a statement today.
Omar said the curfew will facilitate the enforcement and monitoring of boat movements, while the presence of security vessels would provide a sense of security for chalet operators and fishermen in the area.
He said that based on intelligence, the Abu Sayyaf militant group and those carrying out kidnappings-for-ransom from the southern Philippines ae still trying to intrude into the ESSZone to commit abductions and cross-border crimes.
Source: Maritime Security Review
The UK-flagged tanker Stena Impero is now free to depart the anchorage at Bandar Abbas, Iranian officials said on Monday. The Impero has been in Iranian custody since July 19, when Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members boarded her and ordered her crew to change course.
“The British flagged tanker ‘Stena Impero,’ pursuant to the completion of the judicial and legal process, is now free to leave,” said Iranian ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad in a social media update Monday.
The Impero’s release has been pending for some time: Foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told Iran’s IRNA News earlier this month that her “legal procedures” were nearly over.
As of Monday night, the Impero had not yet resumed broadcasting AIS, according to commercial tracking services. Owner Stena Bulk has not changed its running update page on the vessel’s status since September 5, when Iranian officials released seven members of the Stena Impero’s crew.
Commandos from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized the UK-flagged Stena Impero as she transited the Strait of Hormuz on July 19. The UK Royal Marines conducted a similar seizure of the Iranian VLCC Adrian Darya 1 (ex name Grace 1) on July 4, and the Impero’s detention was widely seen as a retaliatory measure targeting British shipping. Iran denies any connection between the two tankers’ circumstances.
The Adrian Darya 1 has since arrived off the coast of Syria, where she is expected to deliver her cargo despite EU and U.S. sanctions. The U.S. State Department has announced that the Darya’s cargo has been delivered, but satellite image and open source analysis by consultancy TankerTrackers shows that she was still in laden condition as recently as Saturday.
Source: The Maritime Executive
Iran says that it is planning a joint naval drill with Russia and China in the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean, according to semi-official news agency Tasnim.
Under ordinary circumstances, a naval exercise among three partner nations would be unremarkable. However, tensions between the United States and Iran are unusually high, and Russian and Chinese forces are the U.S. military’s primary identified competitors. The United States is leading a naval patrol coalition in the same region in order to deter a repeat of the attacks on six tankers off Fujairah earlier this year.
The head of foreign affairs for Iran’s General Staff, Ghadir Nezami, told Tasnim that the joint drill will be held in the Gulf of Oman and the northern portion of the Indian Ocean. He added that Iran has no intention of holding the drill within the Persian Gulf. Nezami did not specify a timeline, but he did indicate that the exercise has “political goals” – namely, showing cooperation among the three partner nations.
In a regular press conference Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang declined to provide details on the drill. “What I can tell you is that the Chinese armed forces maintain normal exchange and cooperation with armed forces of other countries. I would like to refer you to the PLA for the specifics,” he said.
Several Chinese military analysts told the South China Morning Post that China’s contribution to the drill would probably be a temporary retasking of anti-piracy assets that are already located in the region. With tense trade negotiations under way, Beijing is unlikely to want to draw further criticism from Washington, international relations scholar Niu Zhongjun told SCMP.
The American coalition – called the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) – formally launched September 16 with an opening conference in Bahrain. The current members include the United Kingdom, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and the United States. Representatives from two dozen additional countries attended the conference, according to U.S. Central Command.
Source: The Maritime Executive
An Iranian sailor held hostage by Somali pirates for more than four years has been released with the help of the United Nations and a humanitarian group, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi thanked the Hostage Support Partnership group, U.N. officials in Somalia, and authorities in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland and in Ethiopia for their help in winning the release of Mohammad Sharif Panahandeh, the state news agency IRNA said.
Three Iranians sailors are still being held, Mousavi said.
“We are happy to announce we have obtained the release of one of the last hostages of Somali piracy … 3 more seafarers remain who need our help,” Hostage Support Partnership tweeted.
Earlier, Iranian media reports said Panahandeh was among 21 crew members of a boat hijacked in March 2015. Eight of the hostages died, five escaped, and four were freed in a security operation by Iran last year, the reports said.
Piracy off Somalia’s coast has subsided in the past few years, mainly due to shipping firms hiring private security and the presence of international warships.
Source: HELLENIC SHIPPING NEWS
A court in Manila has returned a guilty verdict for eight Philippine Coast Guard members accused of shooting and killing a Taiwanese fisherman in 2013.
The eight servicemembers – seamen Edrando Aguila, Mhelvin Bendo II, Andy Gibb Golfo, Sunny Masangkay, Henry Solomon, Nicky Reynold Aurelio, petty officer Richard Corpuz and commanding officer Arnold Dela Cruz – allegedly collaborated to kill fishermen Hong Shi Cheng in a 2013 encounter near the Luzon Strait.
Prosecutors and ballistics experts presented evidence that slugs found on board Cheng’s vessel, the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 (or Guang Da Xing No. 28), corresponded to the weapons aboard the coastguardsmen’s patrol boat. Other crewmembers aboard the patrol boat testified that Dela Cruz ordered fire to disable the fishing vessel after it failed to respond to warning shots. 53 bullet trajectories were documented aboard the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 (below).
The court ultimately sided with prosecutors, determining that it was possible to infer an intent to kill from Dela Cruz’ decision to open fire and from the quantity of gunfire employed.
“The concerted acts of the accused manifested their agreement to kill Hong Shi Cheng, resulting in each of them being guilty of the crime regardless of whether he actually fired at the victim or not,” Judge Eduardo Ramon R. Reyes wrote. “After sifting through the evidence presented, the Court is convinced that the prosecution has been able to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide.”
Reconstructed ballistics trajectories viewed from above, Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 (Taiwanese Ministry of Justice)
Reyes pronounced a sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment and restitution fines of $2,000 per person. The accused are filing an appeal, and they have been released on bail pending the outcome of a higher court’s decision.
In a statement after the verdict, the defendants’ lawyer asserted that the coastguardsmen were interdicting a foreign fishing vessel engaged in poaching at the time of the alleged crime. “Let us not forget the Taiwanese boat was stealing from the Philippines. That is the bottomline, the PCG was protecting the Philippines from Taiwanese thieves,” counsel Rodrigo Moreno told Rappler.
The Taiwanese government contests the boundary between its EEZ and that of the Philippines, and the area where the shooting occurred – a disputed region east of the Batanes Islands – is a perennial hotspot for confrontation between Philippine and Taiwanese interests.
Thanks to a mutual criminal justice assistance treaty signed in 2012, Taiwanese investigators and ballistics experts played an important role in building the Philippine case against the eight coastguardsmen. In a statement Wednesday, Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice said that Taiwanese law enforcement agencies “expressed sincere gratitude” for the trial’s conclusion.
Source: The Maritime Executive
The Saudi-led coalition backing the Yemeni government has destroyed another bomb boat operated by Houthi rebels off the port of Hodeidah, according to Saudi outlet Al Arabiya.
Coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki said that its forces had defeated “an attempt by the terrorist Houthi militia backed by Iran to carry out an imminent act of aggression and terrorism south of the Red Sea using an unmanned, rigged boat.”
It would not be the first Houthi bomb boat operation: a similar effort in 2017 struck and damaged the Saudi frigate Al-Madinah, killing two crewmembers and injuring three others. Saudi-led forces claim to have intercepted multiple similar vessels over the years since, including two in October 2018 which were allegedly targeted at the port of Jizan. Houthi forces have claimed that they have conducted additional successful attacks, though Saudi reports differ.
On Thursday, Saudi forces also said that they carried out a strike on Houthi military targets at a position north of Hodeidah.
Washington, Riyadh weigh response to Abqaiq attack
The Houthi rebel government has also claimed responsibility for the recent drone and missile attack on Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq oil processing plant, the largest facility of its kind in the world. The attack has taken about three percent of the world’s oil supply temporarily offline, and Aramco is working quickly to repair the damage.
Saudi and American officials blame Iran for ordering the attack and discount Houthi claims of responsibility. A senior Trump administration official told ABC News on Tuesday that defense analysts believe they have identified a site in southwestern Iran where the missiles were launched. Separately, an American official told CBS on Thursday that Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei personally authorized the strike on the condition that Iranian involvement could be concealed.
U.S. President Donald Trump has said that he is weighing retaliatory options. His national security team is preparing a set of potential measures for consideration at a meeting Friday, officials said.
On Thursday, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif told CNN that an American strike would mean “all-out war.” “I am making a very serious statement that we don’t want war; we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation . . . But we won’t blink to defend our territory,” Zarif said.
Source: The Maritime Executive
The Ministry of Communications in the state of Kuwait’s issued a Ministry Resolution increasing the ISPS level for all poets within Kuwait to ISPS L2. Although many incidents had been occurred before, the 9/11 attack in United States triggered the development of ISPS Code.
Following a review, Kuwait resulted to:
In order to get to the conclusions above, the Minister of State for Services Affairs reviewed the constitution. Amiri Decree issued on 12/8/1986 concerning the functions of the Ministry of Transportation.
Amiri Decree No. 5 in 2017 concerning the functions of the Minister of State for Services Affairs. Council of Ministers No.1003 Decision No. 2/64 held on 23/11/2009 on the formation of the Standing Committee to follow up and implement the International Code of the Security of Ships and Port Facilities (ISPS Code)
“Kindly inform all Vessels that are under your agency to cooperate immediately”
Ministerial Decision No. 700 of 5/8/2018 on the Restructuring of the Standing Committee for the Follow-up of the Implementation of the International Ship Security Code and the Port Facility.
UKMTO are aware of an incident occurring at approximately 1530UTC on 17 September 2019 involving a Sailing Yacht in position 1629.58N 04008.32E. Investigations are ongoing and further updates will be issued when details are known.