On 19 December, Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) DEFENDER, a UK Royal Navy destroyer operating in the Gulf of Oman in direct support of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150), seized 131 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine from a dhow they had been following.
The suspicious vessel was first detected using DEFENDER’s ‘WILDCAT’ shipborne helicopter. DEFENDER then closed the dhow and a team of Royal Marine Commandos in Pacific 24 sea boats boarded and secured the vessel. It was then searched by a Royal Navy boarding team who found 11 packages of narcotics, with an estimated regional wholesale value of $280,000 U.S. dollars.
The Commanding Officer of HMS Defender, Cdr Richard Hewitt MBE said: “I am really proud that Defender has been able to interdict such a significant quantity of drugs and prevent it reaching the streets. Even over the festive season, the Royal Navy is at sea 24/7 working as part of Combined Task Force 150. This has been a real boost for the ship’s company as they face Christmas away from their loved ones.”
HMS DEFENDER’s haul, on their first day working under Combined Maritime Forces, is CTF150’s largest interdiction of crystal methamphetamine for 2019; more than doubling the amount seized so far. It takes CTF150’s overall narcotics seizures this year to $48.5m.
“This is the second narcotics shipment in a week we’ve kept from reaching its destination,” said Commodore Ray Leggatt, Royal Australian Navy, Commander of CTF 150. “With this action, and more to come, we are impacting terrorists’ ability to operate in this region and around the world. Well done to the crew of HMS DEFENDER for their keen eye, skill, and precision in prosecuting this high seas take down.”
Australia assumed command of CTF 150 in early December, with a staff made up of personnel from the Royal Australian, Royal Canadian, and Royal New Zealand navies. HMS DEFENDER’s success under their command follows that of French Ship Courbet last weekend, who seized 3,545kg of hashish with an estimated regional wholesale value of $1.8m.
CTF150 has seen a huge increase in the amount of crystal methamphetamine being smuggled year on year, with 257kg interdicted to date in 2019, versus only 9kg in 2018.
CTF 150’s mission is to disrupt terrorist organisations and their related illegal activities by restricting their freedom of manoeuvre in the maritime domain. The activities of CTF 150 are a critical part of global counter-terrorism efforts, as terrorist organisations are denied a risk-free method of conducting operations or moving personnel, weapons or income-generating narcotics and charcoal.
Source: COMBINED MARITIME FORCES (CMF)
Alert crew thwarts another robbery attempt in the Singapore Strait.
Gangs of pirates targeting ships transiting the Singapore Strait continued their quest for plunder over the holiday period but were unable to make off with any loot from a Stena Bulk product tanker on Christmas Day.
The Singapore-based Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) reports that six Indonesian pirates targeted Stena Bulk’s 49,600-dwt product tanker Stena Immortal (built 2016) just after midnight on 25 December.
The tanker was underway in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) in the Singapore Strait (western sector) when six unarmed pirates were sighted in the engine room.
The Stena Immortal’s chief engineer sighted the perpetrators and alerted the master. The alarm system was activated and the sextet fled empty-handed, disembarking into a small boat at the stern of the ship.
There was no confrontation between the pirates and the crew.
The master reported the incident to Singapore Vessel Traffic Information System (VTIS) who initiated a safety navigational broadcast. The Singapore Police Coast Guard boarded the ship upon her arrival at Singapore.
ReCAAP reports that this is the 30 th robbery attempt carried out against vessels transiting the Singapore Strait this year.
Incidents have shifted in recent months from the westbound lane to the eastbound lane, and larger vessels are increasingly being targeted.
Attempts have increased significantly in the past month, with a total of six bulkers and tankers reporting pirate boardings over the past week. In most cases the gangs, some armed with knives, fled without stealing anything after the alarm was raised.
Only one of the vessels, Akij Shipping’s 53,000-dwt bulk carrier Akij Globe (built 2003), reported the theft of engine and generator parts.
The chief engineer on Great Eastern Shipping Co’s 158,000-dwt tanker Jag Lalit (built 2005) had his gold chain necklace stolen, while the ship’s 4 th engineer was punched in the face.
ReCAAP has advised all ships transiting the Singapore Strait to exercise enhanced vigilance, adopt extra precautionary measures and report all incidents immediately.
Maritime security experts say the robbery attacks in the Singapore Strait are being carried out by crime syndicates operating on nearby Indonesian islands such as Batam and Bintan.
ReCAAP ISC Incident Alert on Incidents involving ships while underway in the eastbound lane of Singapore Strait
ReCAAP ISC had issued three Incident Alerts on incidents occurred to ships while underway in the eastbound lane of Singapore Strait (IA 05/2019 on 23 October 2019, IA 06/2019 on 29 November 2019 and IA 07/2019 on 21 December 2019).
On 23 December 2019, another two incidents were reported in the eastbound lane of the Singapore Strait on the same day. Of the two ships that were boarded, one was a bulk carrier and one was a tanker. In both incidents, the crew was tied up by the perpetrators. The perpetrators escaped empty-handed after the crew activated the ship alarm. Due to the close proximity and short time interval between the two incidents (less than two hours), the possibility that the same group of perpetrators responsible for the incidents on 23 December 2019 cannot be ruled out.
With the two incidents that occurred on 23 December 2019, a total of 29 incidents have been reported in the Singapore Strait in 2019. Of these, 15 occurred to ships while underway in the westbound lane of the Singapore Strait and 14 incidents in the eastbound lane of the Strait.
ReCAAP ISC advises all ships to exercise enhanced vigilance, adopt extra precautionary measures and report all incidents immediately to the nearest coastal State. The ReCAAP ISC recommends to the law enforcement agencies of the littoral States to step up surveillance, increase patrols and enhance cooperation and coordination among them in order to respond promptly to incidents.
Detail of Incidents
On 23 December 2019, the ReCAAP Focal Point (Singapore) reported to ReCAAP ISC the occurrence of two incidents in locations of close proximity to each other in the Singapore Strait on 23 December 2019. Both incidents occurred to ships while underway in the eastbound lane of the eastern sector of the Singapore Strait. Refer to the map on the approximate location of the two incidents.
Map – Approximate location of the two incidents occurred on 23 December 2019
The details of the two incidents are described as follows:
a. On 23 Dec 19 at about 0012 hrs, tanker, Bamzi was underway in the Singapore Strait and en route from Nipa anchorage, Indonesia to Qing Dao, China when the chief engineer and duty engineer sighted three perpetrators in the engine room. One of the perpetrators was armed with a knife. The alarm was raised and the three perpetrators escaped immediately. Two motormen were later found tied up by the perpetrators. A search on board the ship was conducted, with no further sighting of the perpetrators. The crew was safe, nothing was stolen and the ship resumed her voyage. The master reported the incident to Singapore Vessel Traffic Information System (VTIS), who initiated a safety navigational broadcast. The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), Singapore Police Coast Guard and Indonesian authority were notified.
b. On 23 Dec 19 at about 0154 hrs, bulk carrier, Trust Star was underway in the Singapore Strait when the crew spotted six perpetrators on board the ship and raised the alarm. Upon hearing the alarm, the six perpetrators escaped immediately. The perpetrators had confronted and tied up two crew in the engine room, who later managed to untie themselves. The master reported the incident to Singapore VTIS, who initiated a safety navigational broadcast. The RSN, Singapore Police Coast Guard and Indonesian authority were notified. The master deviated from her voyage and sailed to the port of Singapore as he was not certain on the actual number of perpetrators on board. The RSN and Singapore Police Coast Guard subsequently escorted the ship to the port of Singapore. Upon the ship’s arrival in port of Singapore, the Singapore Police Coast Guard boarded the ship and conducted a search on board. There was no further sighting of any perpetrator, the crew was safe and nothing was stolen.
Source: ReCAAP, HELLENIC SHIPPING NEWS
December 22: According to an official Gabonese government statement, pirates attacked four vessels in Libreville’s harbour overnight, killing one captain and kidnapping two Chinese Captains and two Chinese chief officers. The vessels consisted of two Chinese-flagged fishing boats belonging to Sigapeche, one Panama-flagged cargo vessel, and a small, harbor landing craft belonging to Satram). The captain who was killed was reportedly working for the latter, while those kidnapped were taken from the fishing vessel/s (the captain and chief officer from both vessels). There is also unconfirmed reporting that a fifth vessel (type unspecified) may have been attacked overnight.
It is reported – although unconfirmed – that the attacks were perpetrated at approximately 03:00 LT (02:00 UTC) by 6-7 persons on board a small craft, and that the vessels were at Owendo Anchorage.
The West African country’s defence and security forces were deployed “to secure the area and track down the perpetrators with the cooperation of Interpol and sub-regional bodies,” a government spokesman stated.
Although piracy is relatively frequent in the region, it is unusual within the harbour.
The Gulf of Guinea, which stretches some 5,700 kilometres (3,500 miles) from Senegal to Angola, has become the new world epicentre of pirate attacks, lootings and kidnappings for ransom. From January to September, 82 percent of maritime kidnappings in the world occurred in the Gulf of Guinea, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
Early last month two Filipinos, a Greek and a Georgian, crew members on an oil tanker, were abducted off of the Togolese capital Lome and nine Filipino seamen were snatched off of Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin.
Sources: AFP via MSN, VOA News, GlobalSecur, MDAT-GoG, Maritime Security Review
December 23: Two Indonesian fishermen abducted from a Malaysian fishing boat in the waters off Lahad Datu last September have been rescued by the Philippine armed forces while another still a subject of ongoing rescue operations.
Maharudin Lunani, 48, and Samiun Maneu, 26, were rescued during a 25-minute clash between Philippine troops and the Abu Sayyaf group at 4.43am on Sunday at Barangay (Village) Pugad, Old Panamao municipality.
Source: Daily Express Malaysia, Maritime Security Review
17 December, 02:30 UTC: A theft was reported on an MV boarded by one unarmed person while at Pointe Noire anchorage (04°46S – 011°47E; 4.6NM off Pointe Noire). The person fled on a skiff manned by another person. Vessel and crew were reported safe. No further information on what was stolen at this time.
Source: MDAT-GoG, Maritime Security Review
Thieves attack three bulkers and two tankers in robbery spree.
Vessels belonging to several shipowners have come under attack from knife-wielding bandits who have been engaged in a robbing spree that began last Thursday morning.
Marshall Shipping, Huaxin Shipping, Great Eastern Shipping, Akij Shipping and Nissen Kaiun have all seen their ships targeted, the Singapore-based Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) reports.
The latest reported attack happened on Monday morning.
Engine room spares and a gold chain necklace were among the items stolen from two of the ships, while three other ships were left with shaken crews and nothing stolen.
The pirates are targeting vessels in the eastbound lane of the strait, with the latest attack taking place on Monday morning.
The sustained activity began just after midnight on Thursday morning when a group of knife-wielding pirates boarded Marshall Shipping’s 105,000-dwt tanker Bamzi (built 2003) while it was heading for the Chinese port of Qingdao.
The chief engineer and duty engineer sighted three perpetrators in the engine room, one of whom was armed with a knife.
The pirates fled the ship after the alarm was raised. A subsequent search found two motormen who had been tied up. Nothing was found to have been stolen from the ship.
The Bamzi’s master reported the attack to the Singapore Vessel Traffic Information System (VTIS), which initiated a safety navigational broadcast.
Early the next morning pirates boarded Huaxin Shipping 46,500-dwt bulk carrier Jian Fa (built 1996).
After being notified by the Singapore Police Coast Guard via the Singapore Vessel Traffic Information System (VTIS) about the boarding, the crew of the Hong Kong-flagged bulker conducted a search but found no perpetrators on board. Nothing was reported stolen.
Try, try again..
Despite their fruitless initial attacks, the pirates returned to action late on Friday night, attacking Great Eastern Shipping Co’s 158,000-dwt tanker Jag Lalit (built
At about 11:25pm (1525 GMT) six pirates armed with knives boarded the Jag Lalit while it was transiting the strait en route to Taiwan. The ship’s fourth engineer was punched in the face, while the chief engineer sustained bruises on the neck and had a gold chain stolen from him.
The master reported the incident to Singapore VTIS and deviated the ship to Singapore to ensure the safety of his crew. Upon arrival in Singapore, the Singapore Police Coast Guard boarded the ship to conduct an investigation and verify that all crew were safe. The ship was then able to proceed to on its voyage Kaohsiung.
At about 11:38pm (1538 GMT), five armed pirates were sighted in the engine room of Akij Shipping’s 53,000-dwt bulk carrier Akij Globe (built 2003).
They fled the Bangladeshi-owned ship upon hearing its alarm, but were still able to make off with engine and generator spares.
The Akij Globe’s master reported the incident to the Singapore VTIS, noting that the pirates were using a small white boat. The ship subsequently arrived in Singapore, its intended destination, where an investigation was conducted by the Singapore Police Coast Guard.
No injuries to the crew were reported.
After a weekend break, attacks resumed on Monday morning when Nissen Kaiun’s 36,300-dwt bulker Trust Star (built 2012) was boarded by a gang of six pirates.
They confronted and tied up two crew members in the engine room, who later managed to untie themselves.
The pirates fled after the alarm was raised.
Unsure of the number of pirates on board, the Trust Star’s master headed for Singapore, escorted by patrol vessels of the Singapore Navy and Police Coast Guard.
A subsequent search revealed that nothing had been stolen and no pirates remained on board the vessel.
ReCAAP noted in a subsequent report that these five incidents, a total of 29 incidents have occurred in the Singapore Strait during 2019.
Of these, 15 occurred to ships while underway in the westbound lane of the strait, while 12 incidents occurred in the eastbound lane.
“The ReCAAP ISC advises all ships to exercise enhanced vigilance, adopt extra precautionary measures and report all incidents immediately to the nearest coastal State. The ReCAAP ISC recommends to the law enforcement agencies of the littoral States to step up surveillance, increase patrols and enhance cooperation and coordination among them in order to respond promptly to incidents,” ReCAAP said.
The organisation previously cautioned that groups of armed robbers in the Singapore Strait were increasingly targeting large ships.
Maritime security experts believe that piracy in the Singapore Strait is carried out by crime syndicates operating in nearby Indonesian islands.
Nave Constellation seamen are free and in good spirits, owner reports.
All 19 crew members from a VLCC abducted off Nigeria earlier this month have been set free by their kidnappers and will soon return to their families.
“All those taken and now released are in good spirits and well, given the circumstances of their time in captivity,” said Navios Maritime Acquisition, the owner of the 297,000-dwt Nave Constellation (built 2010), which was attacked on 3 December south of Bonny Island.
Eighteen Indians and one Turkish national were held captive.
New York-listed Navios did not say anything in its statement about the circumstances or the background of the release, other than to express gratitude to the “government agencies, authorities, maritime institutions and specialists” that did “so much” in securing it.
The attack on the Nave Constellation was the sixth maritime security incident and the fourth kidnapping to occur in 2019 within 56 km of the southeastern boundary of the Nigerian exclusive economic zone.
Another attack took place nearby on 15 December, when 20 Indian seamen were abducted off Togo from the 19,100-dwt tanker Duke (built 2003).
Some releases have been achieved: nine crewmen were freed this month after being taken from a JJ Ugland bulker earlier in November, while three crew were freed after being abducted from the 94,000-dwt Elka Aristotle (built 2003) tanker around the same time.
The fourth kidnapped crewman from the Elka Aristotle, however, died from an illness before being released.
ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre and Philippine Coast Guard Jointly Convene Meeting with Regional Maritime Authorities, Shipping Industry and Diplomatic Community to Assess Evolution of Piracy and Sea Robbery in Asia
Maritime law enforcement and regulatory agencies from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam as well as members from the shipping industry and diplomatic community in Manila today began a two-day meeting jointly organised by ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) and ReCAAP Philippine Focal Point (Philippine Coast Guard) to assess the evolution of piracy and sea robbery in Asia.
Addressing the delegates in his welcome remarks, Director General Alex Paul I Monteagudo, National Intelligence Coordinating Council, representing the Guest-of-Honour, Senator Christopher Lawrence Tesoro Go of the Republic of the Philippines, welcomed greater cooperation among Asian countries to keep sea lanes safe and secure for the free and open passage of commercial vessels so that economies in the region can continue to develop and thrive without the threat of piracy and armed robbery against ships at sea.
In addition to an update of the latest situation of piracy and sea robbery in Asia, the meeting will also take stock of the evolving situation in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters of Eastern Sabah, which has seen 30 incidents of abduction of crew (19 actual and 11 attempted) between March 2016 to November 2019, with the two most recent incidents occurring in June and September 2019.
The meeting will also examine the evolving nature of piracy and sea robbery, using the Sulu Sea as a case study, where most of the incidents of the abduction of crew for ransom were claimed by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), an Islamic extremist group based in southern Philippines.
The meeting will close with an assessment of the efforts and progress made by the Philippine Government in addressing the piracy and sea robbery situation in the southern Philippines and chart the way forward.
“The maritime safety and security situation in the Sulu-Celebes Seas is dynamic and evolving. While the stakeholders have made much efforts to address the threats, more can be done, especially in examining the underlying causes driving the incidents of abduction of crew for ransom claimed by the Abu Sayyaf Group,” said Admiral Joel S. Garcia, Commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard.
“This meeting is hence timely as it presents an opportunity to raise the awareness and share perspectives on the emergent nexus between maritime terrorism and piracy and armed robbery against ships. This is an area I encourage ReCAAP ISC to further study, as it may potentially add a new complexion to piracy and sea robbery in the future,” continued Admiral Garcia, who is also Chairperson of the ReCAAP ISC Governing Council.
“While the overall number of incidents of piracy and sea robbery in Asia has been decreasing, with 70 incidents from January to November 2019, we cannot afford to operate in a ‘business as usual’ mode,” said Mr. Masafumi Kuroki, Executive Director of ReCAAP ISC.
“The situation always has the potential to change, as new modus operandi emerge. ReCAAP ISC and Focal Points, the shipping industry and other stakeholders must stay vigilant and be keen to the evolving threats. This meeting co-organised with ReCAAP Philippine Focal Point is thus designed to assess the progress of efforts, consider further measures, and raise awareness on emerging threats to the safety and security of our seas,” continued Mr. Kuroki.
Source: ReCAAP ISC, HELLENIC SHIPPING NEWS
Suspicious activity reported 194 km south-west of Agbami oil terminal in piracy hot spot.
A possible pirate mothership has been spotted 194km off the coast of Nigeria following a series of kidnappings in recent weeks.
The piracy reporting body Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) said “suspicious activity” was reported south-west of the Agbami oil terminal on Thursday morning.
The report said a “suspicious mother vessel” towing a speed boat was spotted.
It is not clear whether the ship made the report.
The panamax vessel is outbound from Lome, Togo, at 14.2 knots.
Speed and track not known
It is displaying its destination as the FSPO Aseng off Equatorial Guinea.
The Italian shipowner has been contacted for further information.
Four serious kidnappings have taken place involving three tankers and a bulker in the Gulf of Guinea since the start of November.
Analysts believe the distances of the attacks from shore of more than 100 km in some cases mean the pirate group is using a mothership.
A total of 39 crew remain as hostages from the 297,000-dwt Navios Maritime Acquisition VLCC Nave Constellation (built 2010) and the 19,100-dwt Union Maritime chemical tanker Duke (built 2003).