The US wants to board North Korean ships in international waters to enforce sanctions — here’s why it might not make a difference

The US is reportedly talking about expanding crackdowns on North Korean ships, along with allies such as Australia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.

North Korea currently uses ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned materials — sometimes in ports and sometimes in international waters — to evade sanctions from the international community.  The UN Security Council has passed at least nine resolutions that imposed sanctions on North Korea, and Australia, the EU, Japan, South Korea, and the US have all placed additional sanctions on the country.

Russian and Chinese ships have recently been caught exchanging goods and resources in ship-to-ship transfers, as has a ship registered in the Maldives.

The new efforts would expand the scope of the interceptions to possibly include searching and seizing North Korean ships in international waters. Currently, nations only have the authority to conduct these operations within their own waters, where North Korean ships that break sanctions rarely travel through.

“There is no doubt we all have to do more, short of direct military action, to show (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un we mean business,” a senior American official recently told Reuters.

But the effectiveness of such operations is likely to be limited, Richard Weitz, the Director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis and the Hudson Institute, told Business Insider.

“The problem is the legal complexity,” Weitz said. “Just stopping every ship that leaves North Korea is too far for countries like Russia and China.”

If any maritime operation were to succeed, Russia and China would likely need to be physically involved, conducting joint patrols and interdictions on the Korean Peninsula with US and other regional navies.

Limited effectiveness of maritime interdictions

China’s cooperation would be particularly important, as Donald Rauch, a US Navy Surface Warfare Officer and former Commanding Officer of USS Independence, recently argued in Foreign Policy.

“Such a move would convince North Korea that its sole ally and biggest trading partner had reached the end of its strategic patience,” Rauch writes.

However, the likelihood that China would be part of this kind of operation is low, given that China sees North Korea as a buffer between it and the West.

Still, more aggressive maritime interdictions, conducted in cooperation with partners in the region, could help with sanctions enforcement and could possibly slow down North Korea’s nuclear and ICBM ambitions.

“I’d imagine that you could supplement it with good satellite intelligence, good espionage in the countries that are receiving the materials, and intercepted communications,” Weitz said.

“It will be useful and it will certainly adapt and its an area that needs to grow, but unless China and Russia were really going all the way in, it’s going to be imperfect.”

Weitz also pointed out that North Korea will likely find another way to continue to get the materials and money it needs.

“Insofar as the maritime interdiction becomes more effective, the more North Korea will then turn to other means of smuggling material in and out,” he said. “Whether it be by air, through China, or other methods.”

Source: Business Insider


HMAS WARRAMUNGA in support of CMF continues seizure success with over 7 tonnes of drugs seized in Arabian Sea.

ON 3-4 MARCH HMAS Warramunga continued the remarkable success of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 by seizing over 7 tonnes of hashish in back to back seizures. HMAS Warramunga conducted two boardings and after a thorough search found over 7 tonnes of hashish, valued at over $300 million USD. Over the last three months, CTF 150 has interdicted over 25 tonnes of drugs valued at over $1.3 billion USD in eight seizures.

HMAS Warramunga, as part of Combined Maritime Forces’ (CMF) CTF 150, was conducting a patrol in the international waters of the Gulf of Aden, on 3 March when she detected a suspicious vessel. The Australian ship quickly closed in on the suspicious dhow to conduct further investigations that led to the boarding. HMAS Warramunga was authorised to conduct a non-destructive search for illegal narcotics, weapons and charcoal. During that search, the boarding team located 4 tonnes of hashish, valued at over $155 million USD. After completing a thorough search, the drugs were catalogued and transferred to HMAS Warramunga for safe disposal at sea.

The Commanding Officer of HMAS Warramunga, Commander Dugald Clelland, RAN, said he’s been continually impressed with the crew’s determination and professionalism and stated: “This has been a high tempo deployment for HMAS Warramunga but we have been fortunate in seeing significant quantities of narcotics not reach their final destination as a result of the efforts of the crew and the CTF 150 team.”

On 4 March, HMAS Warramunga continued her relentless pursuit of illicit smuggling, detecting a second suspicious dhow in the Arabian Sea. Intercepting and investigating the second dhow, boarding teams from HMAS Warramunga discovered an additional 3.9 tonnes of hashish, valued at over $151 million USD.

Commander of CTF 150, Commodore Mal Wise, Royal Australian Navy, spoke of the success of the most recent interdictions. “CTF 150 remains focused on our task to suppress the funding of terrorist activities.  The great results that HMAS Warramunga continues to achieve is a testament to her training, her drive to succeed in the mission and the collaborative work between her team, the CTF 150 staff and other partners ashore.  I am extremely proud of this entire effort and the impact that the team continues to have on terrorism funding.”

Since December 2017, multinational assets in support of CMF have seized 27.9 tonnes of hashish and 1.5 tonnes of heroin, valued at over $1.3 billion USD. CTF 150 is currently under Australian leadership, supported by a combined Australian and Canadian staff.

Media note:  *This calculation is based on the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Illicit Drug Data Report 2015–16 figures for Cannabis Resin (Hashish) at $50 AUD /$39 USD per gram (p215) and Heroin at $300,000 AUD / $235,000 USD per kilogram (p 216).

Source: CMF


Sea Pirates Kill 2, Injure 3 In Bayelsa

Suspected sea pirates have killed two persons and injured three others in Ayama community, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa.

The pirates, according to a witness, invaded the community on Monday at about 9 p.m. and shot sporadically into the crowd of indigenes.

Confirming the development, the Spokesman of the Police Command in the state, DSP Asinim Butswat, said in Yenagoa that investigation had begun and the culprits would be brought to book.

Mr. Munalayefa Gibson, a member of the State House of Assembly representing Ogbia Constituency 2, also confirmed the incident and condemned the attack, describing it as wicked.

According to Gibson, the sea robbers sprayed bullets on the community for over 30 minutes before towing away more than 10-speed boats.

“The same suspected gangs, after the Anyama operations stormed Ogbia Town around 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 6 and kidnapped one Mrs. Augusta Apaga and went away with four 75 horse-powered engine boats.”

“Ogbia local government area has been thrown into mourning, particularly Anyama Community where three persons are feared dead and two are in critical condition receiving medical attention,” he said.

Gibson, who described the incidents as senseless and barbaric, frowned at the constant occurrence of sea piracy and kidnapping along coastal communities in the local government area.

He advised the communities to be more vigilant.

Source: Sahara Reports


Off West Africa, navies team up in fight against piracy

“Sir, we’re going to handcuff you,” a coast guard from Sao Tome tells a man accused of fishing illegally in the archipelago’s waters.

But the “fisherman” is really a French navy seaman disguised in a T-shirt, cap and sunglasses — a member of an unusual multinational training exercise to combat crime in the Gulf of Guinea.

Illegal fishing, piracy and hostage-taking haunt the vast bay lying off West Africa, whose coastline runs from Liberia in the west to Gabon in the south.

According to the European Union, the Gulf of Guinea is the “worst-affected region” in the world for unauthorised fishing. In 2016, around a third of all catches, a haul worth about 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion), were illegal, it says.

In a survey of sea piracy in 2017, the International Maritime Bureau found that of 16 incidents around the world when a vessel came under fire, seven occurred in the Gulf.

In late February, the French patrol boat Lavallee took part in exercises with naval vessels from central African countries over five days, an operation dubbed “African Nemo”.

These exercises, held several times a year, are designed to be realistic.

In one, not far off the Sao Tome and Principe archipelago, sailors from Sao Tome were ordered to arrest the crew of a Chinese fishing boat, in the shape of the Lavallee.

A Sao Tome naval officer led his men in boarding the foreign vessel for an inspection and thorough search, which resulted in the arrest of the pretend fisherman for pillaging local fish stocks.

– ‘Real-life’ training –

The “fishermen” put up a fuss, rowdily complaining of the heat and doing their best to make life more difficult for their captors.

One Sao Tome sailor carefully treated a make-believe injury sustained by a fisherman, setting his arm in a sling.

Once the exercise was over, it was time for an assessment — the Sao Tome sailors realised they need to beef up safety precautions while boarding a vessel and improve ways of searching a suspect.

Another scenario envisaged an operation against pirates. Aboard a Gabonese patrol boat that sailed from Gabon’s coastal capital Libreville, participants practised how to conduct the mission without breaching international maritime law.

“This type of exercise is informative and places us in real-life situations,” said the vessel’s commander, Sub-Lieutenant Gael Mbanda.

“They enable us to pinpoint our weaknesses in equipment and personnel.”

Rules for terms of intervention and sharing tasks were signed in June 2013 by leaders from the 15-nation Ecomomic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and from the 10-nation Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

This accord — signed in Cameroon and known as the “Yaounde Process” — has led to stronger cooperation over some 6,000 kilometres (3,700 miles) of African coasts and the adjacent waters, Maritime Security Review reported in June 2017, when EU logistical support began.

Despite the political steps forward, huge practical challenges remain, given the sheer volume of fish stocks stolen in a vast area of water.

“Illegal fishing amounts to a quarter of the value of African exports,” said Lionel Kinadjian, the representative of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Gabon.

Senior French naval officer Captain Emmanuel, whose second name was withheld for security reasons, also pointed to a shift in tactics by pirates.

“(They) have moved on from ‘bunkering’ — the theft of goods stored aboard a vessel — to an increase in the taking of hostages for ransom,” he said.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News


Eyes in the sky and sea, as Air Force and Navy use manpower-saving technology

SINGAPORE — From drones that can suss out objects as small as a Coca-Cola can on runways, to unmanned surface vessels that scan the seabed to detect mines, the Air Force and Navy are banking on technology to reduce their reliance on manpower.

These were examples cited by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in Parliament on Friday (Mar 2), as he spoke about harnessing technology to overcome the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) constraints.

Tapping the power of data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, the Air Force is teaming up with the Defence Science and Technology Agency to develop Smart Airbases.

Self-organised drones fitted with sensors, including an electro-optical camera and a Lidar (light detection and ranging) sensor, can be flown over the airfield to detect damage. Data is transmitted to a ground station, and defects are colour-coded according to their nature, such as craters or potholes, location and diameter.

The trial began at the Tengah Airbase in January.

Such damage classification and recovery is usually labour-intensive and involves hundreds of soldiers. With the drones, damage assessment and repairs can be sped up. For instance, a drone flying at a maximum speed of 10m per second can sweep Tengah Airbase’s runway in about five minutes.

Decision support systems will then prioritise runway repair work, and recommend taxiing routes to minimise disruption to aircraft activity. Unmanned ground vehicles will also be deployed to assist in repairs.

Technology can also be used to catch errant drones flown by hobbyists, with a radiofrequency jammer utilised to interrupt the signal, which causes the drone to hover at a certain spot or return to its base.  Drone catchers, which are drones mounted with a net, can also be despatched to seize intruding drones.

Other features of Smart Airbases include sensors and unmanned ground vehicles that supplement inspections of aircraft by ground crew before and after a flight. Usually, three or four crew members are needed for inspections and supervision before a jet takes flight. For example, it takes between one and three hours to prepare an F-16 fighter aircraft for flight, and more than half that time is spent on visual inspections.

With the new system, sensors can snap images of the aircraft, and tapping AI, a smart computer identifies abnormalities such as missing fasteners and scratches, and plots them onto a three-dimensional model. The Air Force is exploring how the sensors can pick up things such as hydraulic leaks in future.

The Smart Airbases will also feature a smart fleet management system, which is in development. The system will use data analytics to gain insight into aircraft performance and recommend maintenance proactively, before complex problems crop up or systems fail.

Military Expert 5 (ME5) Tommy Ong, head of airbase operability systems in the Air Force’s air plans department, said manpower constraints were a key driver behind the initiatives. He said: “We are still in the midst of a trial and experimenting with these technologies. We can only quantify the savings at a much later date when we have more insights into the readiness and maturity of these technologies.”

No timeline was given for the Smart Airbases, but ME5 Ong said the features would be rolled out beyond Tengah Airbase to other airbases, including Sembawang Airbase, if the trials go well.


In order to reduce manpower and boost efficiency in maritime security, the Navy is developing three types of unmanned surface vessels that will be involved in maritime security and mine counter-measure operations.

One key feature of the new vessels is the significant cut in the number of personnel required to operate them — from 30 to just four.

The current Bedok-class Mine Countermeasure Vessels require about 30 personnel on board, conducting both mine detection and mine disposals sequentially.

For each unmanned vessel, only two people will be needed to operate it remotely for either mine detection or disposal. One will navigate the vessel, while the other will control the towed body — the sonar system or a mine disposal system.

The Towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar, which is used to scan the seabed for mines, can be launched and recovered automatically, remotely and quickly.

Right now, deploying the sonar from the Navy’s mine countermeasure vessels takes about 45 minutes. With the unmanned surface vessels, this is cut to about 10 minutes.

The vessels with the sonar system are in the final stages of trials, while those with an expendable mine disposal system are in their early stages of tests. A third type of vessel, which will perform coastal patrols, is in development.

Out at sea, the vessels can travel at speeds of more than 25 knots — faster than existing manned platforms — for more than 36 hours.

Major Lim Yoong Seet, officer commanding of unmanned underwater systems at the 194 Squadron, said the unmanned surface vessels can be equipped with different payloads, which can be retrofitted depending on operational needs.

Some servicemen with the squadron have been trained to operate the system.

Military Expert 2 (ME2) Briane Vivaeganathan, said operating the Towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar was simpler, and the transition from manual to automated platforms was “quite seamless”. ME2 Briane went through a day’s training to familiarise himself with the new systems.

However, he noted that with automation, “we really need to have the knowledge at our fingertips, so that if the automation reacts differently, we can react (quickly)”.

Source: Today


After Somali piracy, is sailing the Western Indian Ocean safe again?

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the international campaign against Somali piracy. Launched in 2008 following a severe escalation of piracy incidents in the Western Indian Ocean, international navies have operated in the region with a counter-piracy mandate for 10 years.

Significant investments have also been made in building the capacity of regional states to deal with maritime insecurity. International organisations under the umbrella of the United Nations, as well as donors such as the European Union, have helped build the capacity of coastguards and other law enforcement agencies. This has included giving them the capability to do their work, improving the legal justice sector and boosting operations at sea.

Has the international campaign against Somali piracy been successful? Is the threat gone? Is sailing the Western Indian Ocean safe again?

The number of attacks has certainly declined. But the risk of being attacked at sea remains.

Hopes were raised that the piracy threat had been successfully managed after no new incidents were reported after 2012. But these hopes came to an abrupt end in 2017 when there was a spike in the number of attacks. Seven events close to Somalia’s shores were reported during the year.

On top of this, other factors are contributing to making waters that are home to one of the major shipping lanes of the world’s economy insecure. For example, the Western Indian Ocean is now the major smuggling route for Afghan heroin.

And fish stocks on the East African coast are threatened with extinction because of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

In addition, the conflict in Yemen is contributing to making the maritime domain a higher risk area for international shipping.

The wider scope

The international community is aware of these broader maritime insecurity issues. So it has invested heavily in building the capacity of regional countries. The European Union, states like the US, Norway, Denmark and Turkey, and the United Nations agencies have launched ambitious initiatives to help countries manage the challenges at sea.

These include helping draft new policies and laws, training in boat handling or intelligence gathering, as well as looking at how agencies can work more closely together, and beyond borders.

Initially these investments focused exclusively on piracy. But the scope has widened to include a broader range of maritime security threats, such as smuggling and fishery crimes.

But have these programmes helped countries make progress? A new report by the Safe Seas project launched at a symposium in Nairobi argues that there has been significant progress. But, the report adds, the delivery of capacity building needs to become more effective.

The report argues that countries in the region need to become more willing to take the lead in capacity building. Many don’t have national maritime security strategies, investment plans or dedicated coordination bodies for working with donors. Such steps are vital to ensure that receiving countries are in the driving seat and informed decisions are being made about what will work and what won’t.

The report also proposes that maritime security governance needs to become more efficiently structured through national and regional coordination committees. Maritime security is a complex task. It involves many different agencies, ranging from coast guards, fisheries to customs and border guards or environmental agencies. These agencies must work closely together. They must also coordinate well with all users of the sea, such as the shipping industry, or the leisure and tourism industry. Only together can maritime insecurity be fought and the prospects of the blue economy be utilised.

Finally, the report argues that information sharing mechanisms and joint task forces and coordination between international donors and receivers of capacity building need to be strengthened.

Transferable lessons

There is no end to piracy in sight, and in some ways maritime threats have increased. Nevertheless the report suggests that effective capacity building that incorporates tools such as maritime security strategies, or coordination bodies presents the key to making the Western Indian Ocean safe.

This is not only important for this region. The lessons of capacity building are directly transferable elsewhere: to the Mediterranean where the human trafficking tragedy continues and the Gulf of Guinea where piracy remains rampant.

In both regions international agencies and donors have started to develop assistance and training programmes similar to those in the Western Indian Ocean. The lessons could also apply to Southeast Asia where not only piracy but a range of other maritime security challenges, such as extremist violence and people smuggling, are on the rise.

The ConversationWhile not a quick fix, if capacity building is done right the oceans will be safer again.

Christian Bueger, Professor of International Relations, Cardiff University et Timothy Edmunds, Professor of International Security at University of Bristol and Director of the Centre for Global Insecurity, University of Bristol

The original version of this article was published on The Conversation.

Source: MARSEC Review


Kenya pledges enhanced maritime security to develop blue economy

Kenya’s defense forces will enhance surveillance along its coastline to ensure that development of blue economy, key to achieving food security, is not interrupted by emerging security threats like piracy, officials said on Wednesday.

Raychelle Omamo, Cabinet Secretary for Defense, said a secure coastline is key to stimulating growth of productive sectors of the economy like agriculture, fisheries, transport and manufacturing.

“A vibrant blue economy falls squarely within our government’s big four agenda especially food security and manufacturing. Our blue economy strategy seeks to harness locally available marine resources to create wealth and new jobs,” Omamo remarked.

She spoke at a roundtable for foreign envoys attached to Kenya to explore bilateral cooperation in maritime security and blue economy.

Omamo said Kenya has developed a robust policy and legislative framework to facilitate prudent utilization of marine ecosystem to address endemic challenges like hunger, malnutrition, unemployment and diseases.

She noted that the vast resources in the territorial waters can be harnessed to propel growth of fisheries and pharmaceutical industry.

“The blue economy can deliver real benefits to Kenya like trade, new industries and job creation. But we must secure our territorial waters to ensure they deliver on those benefits,” Omamo told envoys.

She noted that growth of Kenya’s blue economy is hampered by a plethora of threats like piracy, illegal fishing, discharge of toxic waste, maritime terrorism and climate change.

“All these threats exacerbate poverty, hunger and under-development. They precipitate revenue loss and encourage uncontrolled migration,” said Omamo, adding that regional cooperation is key to tackle maritime threats effectively.

Kenya has borrowed international best practices to develop its blue economy and achieve social and economic benefits outlined in the country’s vision 2030.

Mwangi Kiunjuri, Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture and Irrigation, said the government has prioritized development of supportive policies, infrastructure and man power to stimulate growth of the blue economy.

“We look forward to coordinated exploitation of marine resources to achieve our transformation agenda,” Kiunjuri said.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News


Gulf of Guinea piracy evolving, crew on moving vessels ‘easiest targets’

Piracy is becoming a more significant problem for vessels operating in the Gulf of Guinea in spite of a worldwide drop in piracy during 2017.

International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Assistant Director Cyrus Mody told Tanker Shipping and Trade that there have been 17 incidents reported in the region in the first two months of 2018, nearly half the 36 incidents reported to the group in the whole of 2017, with the majority occurring in the waters off Nigeria and Benin.

“We have on record 15 incidents between Nigeria and Benin, and four were in the Cotonou Anchorage,” Mr Mody said.

The number of incidents reported to the IMB, however, pale in comparison to those cited by Africa Risk Compliance, a security contractor and consultancy specialising in operations in Africa. Fleet operations director in the group’s London office Max Williams told Tanker Shipping & Trade that the group was aware of well over 100 incidents in the region in the last 12 months.

The discrepancy – and possibly the recent uptick in piracy reports from the region – could be explained by systematic underreporting.

Mr Mody explained “There is a huge underreporting from vessels in the Gulf of Guinea, and we would hope that we are seeing these higher numbers from increased repoting in the region. We always encourage masters and operators and owners to report these incidents as soon as possible. We always alert authorities to respond to reports of piracy, but reporting also helps other masters in the area to know where incidents are occurring.”

Independent shipping brokerage Asket, which publishes its own daily security alerts for the shipping sector, said piracy strategies in the Gulf of Guinea are shifting to focus on human crew.

“We have certainly seen a change in tactics in the Gulf of Guinea over the past 12 months and it is likely that these will develop further throughout 2018,” Asket’s business and compliance director Emma Mitchell-Biggs told Tanker Shipping and Trade.

Ms Mitchell-Biggs said protection measures such as safe anchorages, escort vessels and co-ordinated response to incidents on the part of the Nigerian Navy had made ship-to-ship siphoning thefts more difficult for pirate gangs patrolling the region.

The downturn in product theft, she said, had resulted in an increase in attacks at sea aimed at capturing crew and ships to be held for ransom.

“Increase in protection around the ports and fields … means that the easiest targets are now attacks on vessels underway,” she said.

In the wider region, however, attacks on ships at anchor have seen an uptick. Recent high-profile incidents over a period of a few weeks in late January and early February 2018 saw two tanker vessels and their crews taken hostage off the coast of Nigerian neighbour Benin in the Gulf of Guinea.

“We’ve seen two hijackings so far this year, and this is something which we have not seen since 2011. In 2011, we had reports of around eight hijackings from around the Cotonou region,” Mr Mody said.

Ms Mitchell-Biggs warned there was no reason to believe these types of attacks would stop.

“We have seen gangs who are boarding vessels at anchor – most notably in the Cotonou anchorage offshore Benin – where the vessel is sailed away from the coast with the intent to conduct short-term hijacks for kidnap and ransom,” she said.

“There is no reason why this trend will not spread further west, for example in Abidjan anchorage [Ivory Coast] where several boardings were seen last year.”

Ships at anchorages can pose relatively easy targets for pirates operating in small, lightly armed and difficult to detect teams of one or two skiffs. These teams are capable of staying mostly hidden among similar small craft at anchor while looking for targets and disappearing quickly if discovered, she said.

According to Ms Mitchell-Biggs, preparation is key to avoiding this type of attack.

“Good planning and rehearsals for the whole crew, the use of intelligence and all round situational awareness including alert lookouts, the management of AIS, and use of radars tuned to pick up smaller targets,” are some of the measures she suggested.

Ms Mitchell-Biggs also cited the fourth iteration of IMO’s Best Management Practices for Somali-based piracy as a starting point for preparing ships to resist attacks.

“Adapted BMP4 type measures are key to controlling access and ingress,” and, she said “a secure and equipped citadel has been proven to work time and again.”

At least one tanker operator has responded to increased piracy in the region by implementing ship-hardening measures.

Source: Tanker Shipping & Trading


Master and engineer kidnapped off Benin

Both men later released, but two security personnel injured after exchange of gunfire with pirates.

The master and an engineer have been kidnapped from a product tanker off the coast of Benin, in what is a further escalation of violence off West Africa.

The vessel, said to be the 8,000-dwt St Marseille (built 2008), was approached late on Monday by five armed men in a speed boat, according to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre.

As they boarded the vessel they were confronted by the tanker’s armed security team and there was an exchange of fire injuring one of the guards.

As the armed intruders made their way to the ship’s bridge they fired upon and injured a second guard, said the IMB.

They then took the officer of the watch hostage as he had been unable to retreat to the ship’s citadel along with the rest of the ship’s crew.

They then demanded that the master, chief officer and chief engineer come on the bridge and that the ship weigh anchor.

However, the vessel was in ballast and had reportedly called at Cotonou Anchorage for bunkers.

When they were notified of this the pirates kidnapped the master and one engineer and stole crew property before leaving the tanker via its rescue boat.

However, once the armed men got ashore they released the master and engineer who were able to make contact with the local police and later rejoin the tanker.

“Two product tankers have been hijacked from Cotonou Anchorage since the start of 2018, but both hijacks ended within a matter of days and their crews were unharmed,” said UK-based security consultant Grey Page.

“In a separate incident, ten days before the attempted hijack of the St Marseille, armed intruders were spotted on the deck of another tanker at the port’s anchorage. They fled when an alarm was raised.

“Vessels in waters around Cotonou and Benin should maintain strict anti-piracy and watches, particularly at night.”

Source: Tradewinds


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