The 12 crew members of the Swiss cargo ship ‘Glarus’, who were kidnapped off Nigeria in mid-September, were freed on 26 October, according to data provided by Swiss authorities.
The vessel was carrying wheat from Lagos to Port Harcourt, when pirates boarded it on 22 September, about 45 nautical miles south west of Bonny Island and kidnapped 12 of the 19 crew members.
However, all twelve have been freed after the ship’s operator Massoel Shipping negotiated with the pirates, and they were taken to Switzerland to be interviewed and receive psychological support, the Canton Bexternal linkasel City public prosecutor’s office informed.
Basel justice authorities have started proceedings for kidnapping, illegal restraint and hostage taking.
The crew members are from the Philippines, Slovenia, Ukraine, Romania, Croatia and Bosnia.
A private security team has helped thwart a piracy attack on a Golden Ocean bulker off Somalia.
Europe’s anti-piracy mission EU Navfor said the 181,000-dwt KSL Sydney (built 2014) was targeted 240 nautical miles offshore on 16 October.
The master had already evacuated the crew to the citadel when the embarked armed security team responded to the attack.
“The master’s actions and the on board security team’s reaction proved essential in preventing the suspected pirates getting aboard and seizing the vessel,” EU Navfor said.There was a sustained exchange of fire before the skiff with several armed people on board broke off and changed course away from the capesize.
As soon as the captain had contacted the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organisation, EU Navfor conducted an initial incident assessment and issued alert and navigation warning to all merchant shipping transiting the area.
The coordination of a military response swiftly, involving other counter-piracy missions such as the Combined Maritime Forces dedicated counter-piracy task force to ensure a coordinated response to the attack.
EU Navfor’s force commander, Rear Admiral Alfonso Nanclares, deployed several counter-piracy assets of Operation Atalanta in the Somali Basin to maintain heightened vigilance, it said.
No injuries have been reported. AIS data shows the vessel underway in the Gulf of Oman on Monday.
It is listed as having armed guards on board, but with no destination listed.
The bulker had left Brazil in September.
Golden Ocean has been contacted for further information.
During a briefing on the conflicts around Hodeidah port, Director of Operations and Advocacy division, John Ging, highlighted the importance that this port and the port of Saleef remain open. This will facilitate the flow of imports, in order to cover urgent needs for the people that are in distress.
Conflict in Hodeidah has escalated significantly. Since 1 June, violence has forced more than 340,000 people from their homes. Most are sheltering with host communities near their areas, while others have arrived in Sana’a, Aden and nearby areas.
Sustained hostilities in Hudaydah city, interruptions to the port operations or a siege of the city would be catastrophic and must be avoided.
What is more, there is no “contingency plan” to protect civilians from conflict in Hodeidah, as the capacity of international organisations and their response would quickly be overwhelmed.
In addition, last year Hodeidah experienced a devastating cholera outbreak. This highlights the need for water and sanitation lines to be ensured.
Hodeidah and Saleef are the lifeline for the majority of imports of these essential commodities, as well as food and fuel needed by millions of Yemenis every day to survive, Mr. Ging noted.
These ports are currently open and operational. In fact, commercial food imports in May rose to their highest level since November 2016. However, food and fuel imports fell again in June and July.
While keeping all ports open is critical, we are equally concerned about maintaining adequate quantities of affordable imports through these ports. To do so, the conditions must be created whereby shipping companies have enough commercial confidence to continue supplying them.
As the stowaway activity in the South African port of Durban has seen a recent increase, the Japan P&I Club recommended that operators should employ the services of private security guards during the vessel’s port stay at the port and that the crew should remain vigilant at all times.
According to data provided by the Club’s correspondents P&I Associations (Pty) Ltd, the current local laws pertaining to illegal foreigners boarding vessels has become very harsh: If an illegal person gains access to the vessel Immigration Authorities will automatically deem the illegal to be a stowaway unless the owners of the vessel can provide fool proof evidence to show that the person actually boarded the vessel in a South African Port.
Our Immigration Authorities are now declaring unwanted guests that are found onboard a vessel, while the vessel is still in Port, as stowaways. Basically, it is the vessel’s responsibility to ensure that nobody enters the vessel illegally.
As such the Club made the following recommendations:
The crew must not allow anyone onboard the ship who does not have a port permit.
Every visitor should have ISPS clearance.
All visitors should surrender their port permit to security and they should collect the same when they leave the ship.
If the crew finds someone who should not be onboard, they should be taken to the bottom of the gangway (not to the ships office) and they must call port security and advise them that the person in their custody at the bottom of the gangway tried to board the ship but they do not have a port permit.
As stowaways are known to access the vessel by climbing up the mooring lines or walking up the gangway pretending to be stevedores, the Club suggests that ships employ three private security guards on the quayside as follows:
one to patrol the aft mooring lines,
one to patrol forward mooring lines,
one to be posted at the bottom of the gangway. He must be briefed to check that nobody rushes up the gangway.
We also recommend that a dog search be conducted onboard the vessel prior to sailing. The Port Agent will be in a position to recommend the services of a security and stowaway search company. The dog search companies offer a guarantee to cover costs of the repatriation should they fail to detect a stowaway, however special attention should be given to their terms and conditions as these terms limit the amount of compensation payable by their company.
Move comes more than two weeks after two Bahri-owned VLCCs were targeted with missiles.
Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia said it resumed oil exports through the Red Sea via the Strait of Bab Al-Mandeb over the weekend.
It halted temporarily oil shipments through the lane on July 25 after attacks on two VLCCs by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement.
Attack highlights threat to Middle East oil shipments
“The decision to resume oil shipment through the strait of Bab al-Mandeb was made after the leadership of the coalition has taken necessary measures to protect the coalition states’ ships,” Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement.
Saudi Aramco added: “The company is careful to continue monitoring and evaluating the current situation in coordination with the relevant bodies and take all necessary procedures to ensure safety.”
Two Bahri-owned VLCCs were identified as the vessels at the centre of the attack which took place on 25 July, with one ship sustaining “minor” damage.
Both VLCCs were fully laden at the time. However, there were no injuries to the either ship’s crew and no pollution.
The Bab al-Mandeb Strait, which runs close to the shoreline of Yemen, is the main shipping lane linking the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean.
It considered one of the world’s most strategic waterways and is heavily patrolled by United Nations naval forces.
Strait of Hormuz blockade unlikely, but impact would be great
The Houthi movement has in the past threatened and attacked vessels carrying Saudi oil because of the active role the country is playing in Yemen’s ongoing civil war.
Separately, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the Houthi militia attack on the two Saudi VLCCs.
The meeting, which comes at the request of Saudi Arabia, will also discuss freedom of shipping and the international trade in the Strait of Bab Al-Mandeb and the Red Sea.
The meeting will be addressed by OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, the Chairman of the delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other representatives.
A final statement is expected to be issued at the end of the meeting, which will be presented to the next meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers to be held in the United Arab Emirates.
All necessary measures to guarantee continual freedom of maritime navigation and international trade across the Strait of Bab Al Mandab and South Red Sea have been taken, said a senior defence official.
Colonel Turki Al-Malki, official spokesman of the Coalition for Support of the Legitimacy in Yemen, added that the command of the coalition forces have conducted an assessment in recent days of all terrorist acts carried out by the Houthi militias targeting free shipping in Bab al-Mandab Strait and south Red Sea, with the most recent targeting Saudi oil tankers, reported state news agency Wam, citing Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Al Malki stressed that continuation of the Houthi militias supported by Iran in this terrorist approach will cause an environmental and economic disaster that harms the interests of the countries of the region and the world at large, added the report.
He pointed out that the command of the coalition forces, in coordination with the international community, have taken all necessary measures in conformity with international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 2216, and that the Coalition for Support of Legitimacy, in Yemen, continues efforts “in coordination with the international community” to maintain regional and international security and contribute to the stability of the world economy.
India’s cabinet has approved a bill that will punish piracy at sea with death penalty or life in prison, local media reported.
The draft law seeks to improve the safety of the nation’s navigation after a rise in attacks on vessels along critical sea routes, official sources told the NDTV television.
The Indian authorities are bringing the law as a part of commitment made by India while signing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982, NDTV reported. The UNCLOS was ratified by India in 1995.
India has reportedly been working since last year on boosting maritime patrols on key sea lanes. Its Navy has been increasingly protecting Indian sea traffic and crews in the Indian Ocean.In 2015, Indian Defense Ministry said that Somalian pirates were relocating their operations from the Gulf of Aden near the coast of Somalia closer to India.
Last year, Somalian pirates reportedly captured an Indian cargo ship with 11 crew members aboard en route from Dubai to Yemen.
Somalia has been plagued by civil war since 1991. Years of lawlessness and corruption have provided local pirates with ample opportunities, hijacking international ships for ransom with relative impunity.
– In a bid to curb corruption in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the National Assembly (NASS) has vowed to carry out investigation into some allegations of corruption in the body
– Yakubu Dogara, the speaker of NASS, said that the House has always taken the issue of financial corruption seriously
– Dogara said that the diligence of the NASS in investigating cases of corruption has led to the unravelling of some fraud carried out in certain agencies The speaker of the National Assembly (NASS), Yakubu Dogara, has said that the House is investigating allegations of fraudulent deals and mismanagement of billions of naira by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). He said this in his speech at the opening ceremony of the investigative hearing organised by the House committee on maritime safety, education and administration on alleged corrupt practices in NIMASA at the National Assembly.
Dogara stated: “It is imperative to dig out the truth of these alleged corrupt practices in NIMASA so that an end can be put to such economic crimes, if they are proven to be true, to enable the masses enjoy their legitimate benefits from our common dividends.” The speaker stated that the House of Representatives has always taken the issue of diligent investigation of alleged economic crimes seriously, adding that this has led to the unveiling of huge fraud cases.
Dogara: “This is in pursuance of the thematic issues in our Legislative Agenda to effect public demand for transparency and accountability by all Arms and Agencies of Government. “I am happy to note that some of these investigations produced revelations of corrupt practices and have helped to prevent wastages of public resources within our Legislative purview as well as funds appropriated by us.” “Only yesterday, this Committee held a Public Hearing on a Bill For an Act to Establish The Maritime Security Agency to Promote Maritime Security, Among Other Things. “This shows the premium attention given to the sector by the House of Representatives due to its contributions to the development of the country, and its potentials to contribute much of the needed revenue for the stabilization of our ailing economy.”
He appealed to stakeholders to make their presentations without fear or favour but in the interest of the nation and the committee to be diligent and absolute in their investigations and interactions with the various agencies.
Dogara remarked: “The House is desirous of receiving a report that will justify the efforts put into the exercise. This can only happen if all those that are in the position to supply necessary information do so with sincerity and open mind.” Meanwhile, NAIJ.com reported that the NASS had on Monday, May 28, responded to the allegation of corruption levelled against it by the former chairman of the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega. The Senate spokesperson, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, while reacting to Jega’s accusation, said the ex-INEC chairman can go ahead and make whatever claim he wants.
The Council today extended the mandate of EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta until 31 December 2020. The Council also decided to relocate the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Operational Headquarters from Northwood (UK) to Rota (Spain), and to Brest (France) for the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) as of 29 March 2019. It appointed Vice Admiral Antonio Martorell Lacave from the Spanish Navy as new Operation Commander to take command from Major General Charlie Stickland on the same date. The relocation and change in command are required due to the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU.
Today’s decision also allocated a budget of €11.777 million for the common costs of the operation for the period 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020.
EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta contributes to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. The operation is part of the EU’s comprehensive approach for a peaceful, stable and democratic Somalia.
The operation also protects vessels of the World Food Programme and other vulnerable shipping, monitors fishing activities off the coast of Somalia and supports other EU missions and programmes in the region.
Today’s decision was adopted by written procedure.
Heavy fighting along Yemen’s west coast between pro-government forces and Shiite rebels in recent days has left dozens dead from both sides, Yemeni officials and witnesses said on Monday.
Government forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, have been advancing in the area in recent weeks as they battle Iran-allied rebels known as Houthis. The fighting has escalated as government forces try to retake the port city of Hodeida, the main entry point for food in a country teetering on the brink of famine.
The government has been waging an offensive to seize the rebel-held district of Zabid south of Hodeida, the officials said. The offensive is being waged by ground troops carrying sophisticated weapons, including shoulder-fired missiles, with air cover from the Saudi-led coalition, they said.
The fighting to capture Zabid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, killed dozens from both sides of Yemen’s conflict, now in its fourth year.
The coalition on Monday targeted rebels in the district of ad-Durayhimi south of Hodeida with airstrikes, killing at least 18 people, the officials said. The rebels, known as the Houthis, were trying to break into ad-Durayhimi, about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) south of Hodeida International Airport, they said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, while the witnesses did so for fear of reprisals.
United Nations Human Coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande said airstrikes hit and damaged a sanitation facility in Zabid and a water station that supplies the majority of the water to the city of Hodeida.
“These airstrikes are putting innocent civilians at extreme risk,” she said. “Damage to sanitation, water and health facilities jeopardizes everything we are trying to do. We could be one airstrike away from an unstoppable epidemic.”
Soldiers of Yemeni government army backed by the Saudi-led coalition take position during military operations on Houthi positions in the port province of Hodeidah, Yemen. (AAP)
Also on Monday, the coalition said it destroyed missile launch sites in the rebels’ northern home base of Saada province, according to a statement carried by the Saudi state-run al-Ekhbariya TV channel.
The Saudi-led coalition launched the campaign to retake Hodeida in June, with Emirati troops leading the force of government soldiers and irregular militia fighters backing Yemen’s exiled government. Saudi Arabia has provided air support, with targeting guidance and refueling from the United States.
Hodeida, home to 600,000 people, is some 150 kilometers southwest of the capital Sanaa. The campaign to take Hodeida threatens to worsen Yemen’s humanitarian situation as it is the main entry point for food, humanitarian aid and fuel supplies to the country.
Aid groups fear a protracted fight could force a shutdown of the port and potentially tip millions into starvation. Some 70 percent of Yemen’s food enters via the port, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies. Around two-thirds of the country’s population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are at risk of starving.
The Houthis seized control of Sanaa in September 2014, and later pushed south toward the port city of Aden. The Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict in March 2015 and has faced criticism for a campaign of airstrikes that has killed civilians and destroyed hospitals and markets.
The Houthis, meanwhile, have laid land mines, killing and wounding civilians. They have also targeted religious minorities and imprisoned opponents. The stalemate war has killed more than 10,000 people.
Impoverished Yemen has been devastated by the stalemated three-year civil war that has left around two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27 million relying on aid, and over 8 million at risk of starving.