Duterte to ASEAN leaders: Blast pirates out of our shipping lanes

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said the piracy in the Malacca Strait needed to be stopped before it would affect trade in the region.

The President said he would seek discussions on the matter with the leaders of affected countries like Malaysia and Indonesia to ask for a decisive military solution.

“I tend to deal with my last card. That has been my character. And if I get to talk to the leaders, there is one thing I can just offer. Blast them out of the seas to keep our shipping lanes open and safe,” Duterte said.

Duterte raised the issue at the High-Level Forum on ASEAN@50 in Manila, where he said that terrorism has entered into the shipping lanes in southeast Asia.

“They have committed enough piracy there, enough money collected from ransoms, needlessly killing people, decapitating them in front of cameras. I think that has to stop,” Duterte said.

Duterte in 2016 said he would raise the piracy problem in the Malacca Strait during his trip to Malaysia.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News

FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Today’s Maritime Security: Is the Industry Prepared?

In late June of 2017, AP Moeller-Maersk shut down its container operations at the Port of Los Angeles. It wasn’t due to labor relations problems, equipment malfunction or other reasons that have been known to thwart port operations. It was a cyber-attack.

In today’s climate of information technology, there’s no telling where hackers lurk or a cyber security compromises may occur. For the maritime industry and its extended supply chains, the threat is real and looming.
“At the local Maersk facility in L.A., terminal personnel had to return to the days of paper and pen to keep cargo moving,” says Jill Taylor, Homeland Security Manager with the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, Calif. “Thankfully, they were able to recover rather quickly, but there was still a worldwide impact. If it can happen to Maersk, it can happen to anyone.”
This is not the first alert to the cyber security risk posed for seaports. E. Anthony Incorvati is the Business Development Manager, Transportation for Axis Communications who provides network video as security for many commercial facilities. He says cyber security is a major concern for maritime and port security today and has been a top priority for the American Association of Port Authorities Security Council and many Port Authorities and federal agencies for some time.
“Ports are the economic engines of this country and the world, meaning any downtime caused by a breach could have a catastrophic impact on global supply chains,” says Icorvati. “While not always thought of as an early tech adopter, many ports have embraced the internet of things (IoT). While communications and information technologies are beneficial for operations, they also open ports up to being more vulnerable to cyber-attacks than ever before. Any connected network device being utilized, whether it is for operational efficiency or better physical security, can create a cyber security risk. This includes IP cameras, which are normally seen as fundamental to preventing physical security issues, and are potential forgotten as possible cyber vulnerability.”
Real Threat
Transportation infrastructure is often viewed as a target as it is a first line in disabling or doing harm to a supply chain. The effects of such an attack may ripple throughout the commerce that relies on it. Within transportation infrastructure though, maritime operations are truly vulnerable. Not only is a cyber threat part of the problem, but so are further acts of terror.
According to Orange Business Services – a global IT and communications services provider who has developed the Orange Maritime Connect single integrated solution platform managing a shipping fleet, cyber security is a real threat and many maritime shipping companies are not fully prepared. According to their research from Futurenautics, 43 percent of crews have sailed on a vessel that has been compromised by a cyber incident. 90 percent of mariners had never received any cyber security training or guidelines. 95 percent of breaches are caused by human errors. They also cite research stating that ship operators believe that data traffic will increase by nearly 60 percent over the next 2-3 years.
Great strides continue to be made in using technology to improve efficiency and reduce costs within ports and shipping. However, technology often brings increased risks according to Andrew Beckett, a managing director for Kroll, an information technology security consultancy, based in London.
“Systems which automate the movement of ISO containers can be hacked so that the containers are moved to a quiet area of the docks for the removal of smuggled items or in some cases, the removal of the entire container before it is processed by customs,” says Beckett. “The ability to access and alter electronic shipping records, bills of lading, and other documentation means that it is all but impossible to trace missing containers. Having CCTV and bar code scanning running on different, isolated systems provides the ability to collate records from multiple sources for verification purposes and makes it harder for illegal activity to go unnoticed. However, too often, those comprehensive systems are missing.”
Jill Taylor also believes the threat may extend beyond a cyber frontier to acts of terror. She points out those seaports with cruise terminals have some of the largest gatherings of people anywhere, with thousands of people embarking and debarking within a handful of hours inside a relatively small footprint. Taylor emphasizes that this is a vulnerability be vigilant in by planning and training.
Her concerns reach further as there is discussion about cutting off Federal port security grant funding to sanctuary cities. “In LA, the primary source of funding for our security system is the Department of Homeland Security’s Port Security Grant Program,” she says. “This funding has been instrumental in our ability to install layers of security to protect our Port. Since 2002, we have received over $80 million in Federal grant funding some of which has been used to prevent and/or mitigate the security concerns I just mentioned. We have built a Cyber Security Operations Center, which thwarts over 200,000 attacks per week, installed over 400 cameras on land and waterside and purchased Port Police patrol and training vessels. So, cutting off this funding to ports in sanctuary cities would be detrimental to the security of our Nation’s cargo and economy.”
In order to arrest the threats that prevail, it’s important to collaborate with other stakeholders within the intelligence community. Staying ahead of emergent threats means being aware of what others are thinking and to know more precisely what your facility and its location presents as risk.
“Living in a Country like [the] United States there are so many potential areas of vulnerability,” says Michael Graychik, Deputy Chief, Emergency Management and Operations Group, Los Angeles Port Police in San Pedro, CA. “We watch and respond to current threats. We have very frequent communications with our partners in the intelligence community and strive to stay ahead of emerging threats. We using training and planning to prepare and to lessen our exposure to all known threats.”
Graychik says that geographic location of their port is of great concern due to the open space of the California coast, its un-monitored coastline and the many security challenges it presents.
“Most commercial vessels are tracked and monitored but there is a threat that exists from smaller unmonitored recreational vessels,” he says. “The small vessel threat is something that has been discussed within the Maritime Law Enforcement Community for many years now.”
Turning to Technology
New technology is likely to shape the risk equation for all links in transportation supply chains. Investments in securing maritime operations are increasing in parallel to the security vulnerabilities of the marine supply chain infrastructure. With new technology is a heightened focus on having workforce in place that is dedicated to security.
The Port [of Los Angeles] Police uses a number technologies and partnerships to mitigate risks related the physical dimension of the maritime domain adds Graychick. “We are one of the few public safety departments that provide a full time contingent of officers to address our waterside security concerns,” he says. “Our Marine Unit is on the water 24/7, as well as a full time dive team to address underwater security threats.”
He says their patrol boats are equipped with the radiological and nuclear detection capabilities. Officers use this technology to passively scan all types of vessels as they transit in and out of the port. They also scan throughout the port’s marinas and along its 43 miles of shoreline.
“Our Hazardous Material Unit and Marine Unit work with a regional public safety consortium known as ‘Securing the Cities’, to provide random large scale, multi-agency, radiation and nuke detection operations for both the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach,” says Graychick. “Vessel screening is done on a large scale inside and outside of the port complex.”
In a marine environment however, new visual technologies can be a boon to security efforts. Security cameras are very sophisticated nowadays and can offer capabilities that go beyond the archaic vigilance and surveillance we associate with them.
“It is incredible what can be done with surveillance cameras today,” says E. Anthony Icorvati. “They are much more than cameras and more akin to computers with the processing power to enable intelligent applications that reside at the edge – or on the camera.
For example, thermal cameras have come a long way and are a must-have technology for maritime security, especially for perimeters. There are currently solutions available that can work with thermal cameras to allow for the detection of moving objects and long ranges with only a couple of pixels on targets needed. Intelligent software applications can take what is captured by a thermal camera and optimize it by connecting with a neighboring PTZ color camera, which can automatically track the object detected by the thermal camera.”
Other technologies aid in the authentication and identification of those in and around the maritime operations environment. Icorvati says his firm provides technology in support of worker validation as newer tools and technology are being used for verification and validation.
“The Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) is something all leaders in the maritime industry should be aware of. Given that many vessels and ports hold sensitive information or materials, it is important to ensure they are highly secured and regulated. It is a regulation enacted by the Maritime Transportation Security Act, affecting workers who require access to secure areas of the nation’s vessels,” he says.
Maritime Security & the Road Ahead
Tools and technology as well as a dedicated task force to bolster security are crucial. As threats and cyber risk increases it’s important to look to the future and stay focused on what’s ahead for the maritime industry, its infrastructure and the supply chain it supports from all sides.
“Going forward, cyber will continue to be a hot topic in port security,” says Taylor. “A company can put all necessary barriers in place to prevent an attack from a foreign country or outside entity, but still be exposed to the insider threat. Whether it is an unknowing employee opening up an infected email, or a disgruntled employee inserting a malicious thumb drive, there are numerous ways the network can be exposed to a virus from the inside. Security professionals know we cannot be complacent and this is particularly true with cyber. The message for proper cyber hygiene has to be circulated over and over again to employees at all levels within a company and protocols need to be enforced regarding the use of external devices. Information technology is ever evolving and the next cyber disaster could be just a click away.”
Icorvati also posits that the newfound utility of data security from information technology is a growing concern. The Internet of Things (IoT) and the opportunity it presents in extracting data and using it, is a source of concern for maritime security in the near term.
“The focus will be on connected devices, whether it is learning new ways to utilize connected devices for improved operational efficiency or physical security, it will continue to remain a priority,” he says. “As with most industries today, IT and physical security managers will continue to work more closely to help ensure that the entire entity is protected. With hackers becoming even more advanced, the access they can gain from an unprotected internet protocol (IP) camera to not only data, but other connected devices, can be disastrous.”
Nick Doyle, a managing director with Kroll in London adds that the design and integration of complex and innovative systems, alongside effective cyber, crisis management, and business continuity plans, will likely find their way into many, if not all, ports within the next three to five years. This will help ensure that ports are prepared to manage and respond to a diverse range of potential business impacts. He smartly points out that on the day of 9/11, U.S. airports remained closed. But after five hours ports were being reopened as the authorities realized how critical they are.
As attacks – both physical and cyber – continue to rise, maritime infrastructure must be riveted on reliable security measures.
Says Icorvati: “While many ports are considering the cyber security ramifications currently, over the next few years as attacks continue to rise and physical security improves, it will become the forefront of safety and security.”
Source: Maritime Logistics Professional
FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Pirate attacks “still a major concern,” says maritime charity as new figures are released

Global piracy continues to be a concern in the Gulf of Guinea, Southeast Asia and Venezuela, according to statistics released yesterday by the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

In the first nine months of 2017, 121 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported, including 92 vessels boarded with five hijackings, 11 attempted attacks and 13 vessels fired upon.

While this is a decrease compared to statistics from the same period in 2016, the report shows that attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and Southeast Asia are still an issue and there has been a rise in attacks off the coast of Venezuela. The statistics don’t take into account unreported incidents.

International maritime charity Sailors’ Society has set up three crisis response networks in Africa, Asia and Europe to support survivors of piracy attacks and crises at sea.

Its CEO Stuart Rivers said: “The fear of piracy is a massive issue for seafarers. While we are encouraged that incidents of piracy are generally decreasing, piracy is a still a major concern and any incident is one too many.

“Survivors of piracy and kidnappings are exposed to violence and terror, which can have a devastating impact on them and their families for years to come.

“By coming alongside these survivors and their families, we can work with other agencies to help them come to terms with what has happened and give them financial, physical and psychological support to help them pick up the pieces of their lives.”

In the last year, the charity has supported crew members from the Naham 3, who were released last year after being held hostage by Somali pirates for almost five years.

In the aftermath of his release, Adi Manurung received help from Sailors’ Society chaplains, including financial support, accompanying him on visits to the psychiatrist and providing counselling for him and his family to help him reintegrate into his community.

Adi said he and his colleagues ate mice and wild cats during their captivity.

“I thought that I would die,” he said.

“There was no hope.”

Source: Hellenic Shipping News

FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Researcher Uncovers Shipping Industry Security Flaws

They may be a lot bigger than the average smartphone or desktop, but a researcher recently demonstrated a plethora of security gaps that could expose container ships to cyberthreats. In a blog post, Ken Munro of Pen Test Partners detailed shipping industry security vulnerabilities such as weak passwords, easily exploitable satellite antennae and other misconfigurations that can be identified by conducting a simple search on Shodan, a search engine for internet-connected devices.

Exposing Shipping Industry Security Flaws

At a shipping conference in Athens, Greece, Munro showed a private network terminal that listed the vessel name and identified the entire crew of a naval ship on its login page. Fraudsters usually have to jump through hoops to get those details, but they can deduce this information by simply hovering over the page.

As The Register pointed out, a cybercriminal could use those names to facilitate phishing attacks by learning more about the crew members through social media profiles. Cases of employees accidentally giving threat actors access to corporate networks are common and well-documented, but shipping industry security flaws also affect satellite communications equipment, which contains location data, information related to cargo and more. If crew members fail to use strong authentication, they increase the potential for a data breach.

Getting Security in Ship Shape

One key issue is that industrial control systems (ICS) such as those used on naval ships were designed long before most organizations began to understand cybersecurity or actively monitor emerging threats to their corporate networks. Today, however, those ships are connected to all kinds of technology via Wi-Fi, very small aperture terminal (VSAT) and Global System for Mobile communication/Long-Term Evolution (GSM/LTE), according to SC Magazine.

It’s also important to note that the IT on a ship often runs 24/7. If nothing else, Munro’s research is a wake-up call for shipping industry security: Unless the sector beefs up measures to protect data, the future will be anything but smooth sailing.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News

FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Nigeria, Ghana sign MoU to wage war against sea pirates

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has signed a four-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) to stop pirates attacks in both countries.

At the ceremony on Monday in Lagos, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside, told a delegation of GMA that the MoU would be renewed every four years.

The two maritime bodies endorsed a document of a relationship to support the aspirations of both countries.

Peterside said that the MoU had no financial implication on both countries.

“Africans must cooperate to solve their own problems. Nobody outside Africa will help us solve our own problems.

“If we must turn around the economic policies of our countries, particularly the West Africa sub-region, we must cooperate with each other.

“There are areas Ghana is stronger than us and there are areas we are stronger than Ghana and there are areas we need the Ghana Maritime Authority.

He said that the piracy affects nation’s trades, adding that intra-Africa cooperation would give both countries all the advantages.

The NIMASA boss said that there was need for both countries to put their acts together by listing their potential in order to maximise their benefits.

He said that the maritime sector has the potential to catalyse the economy growth of each country.

Peterside said that GMA would be turning a page in her quest to become one of the foremost maritime administrations in Africa for Ghanaians to benefit from their natural resources.

He said that key highlights of the MoU are: Knowledge sharing, Capacity Building Initiative, Cabotage Enforcement and joint efforts to combat piracy and terrorism.

The director-general said that the MoU also revolved around implementation strategy and action plan; monitoring and coordination; coordination of movement; financial arraignment; confidentiality as well as dissemination of information.

In his response, the Director-General of GMA, Mr Kwame Owusu, commended the Nigerian maritime operators.

“One thing that is important is that competition should not be one thing that will drive people from one place another.

“We will like to say that there must be consistency and if there is 20-year jail term for pirates and armed robbers in Nigeria, it must be the same 20 years in Ghana.

“We guarantee NIMASA all the support in International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in terms of leadership. We in Ghana will support you.

“We in Ghana will not be ashamed to say that we are in the middle and that you are far, far ahead of us and you have achieved a lot that we need to learn,’’ Owusu said.

The Director, Finance and Administration, Ministry of Transport, Ghana, Mr Emmanuel Num, commended the efforts of Nigeria in strengthening maritime sector in the region.

He said that the MoU symbolised the approval of the Ministry of Transport Accra, adding that the relationship would benefit the peoples of both countries.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News

FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Myanmar’s Evolving Maritime Security Landscape

Myanmar links South and Southeast Asia and lies on maritime shipping routes from the Indian and Pacific Oceans. A key pillar of its national development agenda is establishing an efficient and integrated transport system to become Asia’s newest maritime hub.

Recent political and economic reforms have already had significant impact on national trade flows. According to the Central Statistical Organization, the annual value of total trade (exports and imports) during 2004-2010 remained below US$5 billion. In 2014-2015, this figure increased to US$29 billion. Of this trade, more than 85% is maritime-based. The security of the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) in regional waters would therefore appear to be a national priority.

However, while the security of SLOCs remains vital to Myanmar’s economic outlook, it is unlikely to feature highly on the national security agenda until the internal situation stabilises. Armed ethnic groups have long posed serious security challenges in a number of Myanmar’s states, and instability in Rakhine State could derail the Tatmadaw’s ongoing peace process with these groups. For the time being, therefore, Myanmar is likely to leave much of the task of providing security in regional waters to its larger, more willing and more capable neighbour, India.

Enhancing maritime security capabilities

Since 2008, Myanmar has steadily modernised its navy through a mix of domestic manufacturing and acquisition. The former includes development of frigates, corvettes, and missile craft in domestic shipyards with foreign assistance, especially from China. Discussions on possible submarine acquisitions have also been intermittently reported. The Navy aims to become a blue-water navy in response to regional naval modernisation (especially in Bangladesh and Thailand), and to protect its long coastline and extensive exclusive economic zone from both state-based and non-traditional threats.

Traditional security concerns (ie. the defence of sovereignty and territorial integrity from external powers) have driven Myanmar’s naval modernisation ambitions since the turn of the century. Such insecurities peaked in 2008 following a clash with the Bangladesh Navy over disputed maritime borders in the Bay of Bengal. While the amicable resolution of this dispute through arbitration by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has made Myanmar’s anxieties less acute, this category of threats continues to dominate Myanmar’s strategic calculus on the seas.

In fact, there have numerous land border clashes between Myanmar and Bangladesh subsequent to the maritime border dispute resolution. Such skirmishes have triggered a gradual build-up of land forces along the boundary and involved limited forms of bilateral naval posturing. While Myanmar’s naval capabilities remain roughly even with Bangladesh, the latter’s submarine acquisitions from China in late 2016 has added vigour to Myanmar’s naval modernisation efforts. However, it is important to understand that given the overarching national security focus is insular, naval modernisation takes a back seat to the demands of the army.

Emerging non-traditional maritime security threats

Ongoing domestic instability has exacerbated two key non-traditional maritime security issues for Myanmar, the first being maritime asylum seekers. The events unfolding in Rakhine and the mass exodus of asylum seekers via land and sea is foremost a humanitarian issue, but with serious security implications as well. Asylum seekers from Bangladesh and Myanmar who sailed via the Bay of Bengal for refuge in Southeast Asian countries and were stranded in the Andaman Sea first grabbed international headlines in May and June 2015. Late last month at least 46 were killed when a vessel en route to Bangladesh capsized.

Myanmar’s second non-traditional maritime security priority is arms smuggling. Myanmar and regional states are well aware of the nexus between vulnerable asylum seekers at sea and the trafficking of humans, arms and drugs. Arms smuggling is a serious problem for Myanmar, as the border area between Bangladesh and Myanmar is a sanctuary for arms smugglers, mainly due to the its extensive coastline and weak maritime surveillance capabilities. Smugglers ship various types of small arms from Thailand and other Southeast Asian states and transit through these waters to sell them to insurgents in India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. The ongoing Rakhine crisis has provided an opening for Islamist terror groups to rally support for their cause. Against a backdrop of a fast-growing ISIS presence in South and Southeast Asia, arms trafficking has become a greater threat to Myanmar’s national security.

Implications for maritime security cooperation

Myanmar’s maritime-security outreach has been mostly at the bilateral level, although it does participate in multilateral maritime security initiatives within ASEAN such as BIMSTEC, IONS and the MILAN naval exercises. This outreach was initially met with enthusiasm by regional and extra-regional powers, who see enormous economic and strategic significance in a ‘normalised’ Myanmar, given the growing geoeconomic importance of the Indo-Pacific and the rise of China. For Myanmar, this engagement is more reflective of a desire to be recognised as a constructive player in regional security rather than a conscious policy of securing regional waters and associated SLOCs.

India, which has a long maritime boundary with Myanmar, is among its major maritime security partners. The Bay of Bengal is a key geostrategic area, especially in response to China’s increasing inroads, and this is reflected in India’s recent ‘Act East’ policy. Among India’s topmost security concerns is Pakistani intelligence agencies recruiting fighters from the persecuted Rohingya population in Myanmar and Bangladeshi refugee camps and attacking Indian targets. India’s attitude has been to engage Myanmar during the Rohingya crisis – in September 2017, Prime Minister Modi made his first bilateral visit to Myanmar, where 11 agreements were signed, including on maritime security cooperation.

China too has high stakes in Myanmar’s strategic location, having invested significantly in Myanmar’s maritime infrastructure development. In May, it was reported that China’s CITIC Group proposed taking a stake worth up to 85% in the US$7.3 billion deep sea port in Kyaukpyu, in Rakhine state. In September, Foreign Minister Wang Yi emphasised China’s support for Myanmar’s efforts to protect its national security.

Given Myanmar’s strategic importance to these two rising Asian powers, it is expected that they will continue to engage Myanmar in the maritime security realm, regardless of the Rohingya crisis. This is likely to provide Myanmar a degree of immunity against international backlash on the Rohingya issue, as well as ensure its continued inclusion in the slate of regional maritime security exercises.

Internal instability could yet damage Myanmar’s maritime security prospects with key ASEAN partners. An Informal ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (IAMM) was held in September, but no concrete action plan was set with regard to the ongoing situation or potential asylum-seeker influx. While ASEAN is coming under fire for its inaction on the Rohingya crisis, it is unlikely this will damage Myanmar’s participation in regional maritime security exercises. In August, for instance, Myanmar participated for the first time in the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (Seacat) exercises co-hosted by Singapore and the US. However, with ASEAN being criticised openly on its non-interventionist stance by some of its Muslim members (notably Malaysia), it seems likely that Myanmar’s maritime-security relations with certain ASEAN states will be damaged.

The ongoing crisis has perhaps impacted prospects for maritime security cooperation with key Western states the most. The UK has suspended its fledgling officer training program, and the US too dropped plans to expand training for Myanmar’s military in areas like maritime security and combating human trafficking.

For decision-makers in Myanmar, the perceived danger of international pressure over the Rohingya crisis leading to a seaborne military invasion by foreign powers (especially certain Western states) is very real. Similar deep-seated worries over external aggression were all too evident following Cyclone Nargis, when the French government threatened to push for a UN Resolution and intervene militarily on humanitarian grounds following Yangon inhibiting the delivery of external aid to affected communities. All these concerns are likely to factor into Myanmar’s maritime strategic planning.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News

FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Nigeria, Ghana sign MoU to wage war against sea pirates

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has signed a four-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) to stop pirates attacks in both countries.

At the ceremony on Monday in Lagos, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside, told a delegation of GMA that the MoU would be renewed every four years.

The two maritime bodies endorsed a document of a relationship to support the aspirations of both countries.

Source: The Guardian

FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Armed men seize 5 fishermen in Sulu

Armed men abducted over the weekend five fishermen in Sulu, the military revealed on Monday.

Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said crew of FB Danvil 9 were taking shelter at the port of Poblacion in Pangutaran town last Saturday when they were snatched by armed men believed to be members of the notorious Abu Sayyaf.

The military said the captors were aboard two motorized bancas and immediately left the area after taking the victims.

Sobejena identified the five captives as Vergel Arquino, of Davao City; and Jushua Ybanes, Emo Fausto, Junald Minalang, and Sriano Sardido, all of Pagadian City.

“JTF Sulu in coordination with the Philippine Coast Guard Western Mindanao District immediately responded to the reported incident through intensified hot pursuit operation to interdict the perpetrators and safely rescue the kidnap victims,” Sobejana said.

Source: Inquirer. Net
FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Nigeria Still A Risky Place for Shipping says Piracy Report for 9-Month Period

A total of 121 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in the first nine months of 2017, according to the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) latest quarterly report on maritime piracy.

The flagship global report notes that, while piracy rates were down compared to the same period in 2016, there is continuing concern over attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and in South East Asia. The increase in attacks off the coast of Venezuela and other security incidents against vessels off Libya – including an attempted boarding in the last quarter – highlights the need for vigilance in other areas. In total, 92 vessels were boarded, 13 were fired upon, there were 11 attempted attacks and five vessels were hijacked in the first nine months of 2017.

No incidents were reported off the coast of Somalia in this quarter, though the successful attacks from earlier in the year suggest that pirates in the area retain the capacity to target merchant shipping at distances from the coastline. Here are four main takeaways from the report:

1. Malaysia’s success story

One vessel was reported hijacked in the third quarter of 2017 when a Thai product tanker was attacked off Pulau Yu in Malaysia in early September. However, thanks to the prompt intervention of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, 10 hijackers were successfully apprehended and the tanker was safely escorted to a nearby port. The pirates were quickly tried and sentenced to long periods of imprisonment.

“The Malaysian response demonstrates exactly the type of speedy and robust action that is needed to deter such attacks.” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB.

2. Nigeria remains risky

A total of 20 reports against all vessel types were received for Nigeria, 16 of which occurred off the coast of Brass, Bonny and Bayelsa. Guns were reportedly used in 18 of the incidents and vessels were underway in 17 of 20 reports. 39 of the 49 crewmembers kidnapped globally occurred off Nigerian waters in seven separate incidents. Other crew kidnappings in 2017 have been reported 60 nautical miles off the coast of Nigeria.

“In general, all waters in and off Nigeria remain risky, despite intervention in some cases by the Nigerian Navy. We advise vessels to be vigilant,” said Mr Mukundan. “The number of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea could be even higher than our figures as many incidents continue to be unreported.”

3. An uptick in violence off Venezuela

While only three low-level incidents took place in Venezuela during the same period in 2016, the number this year racked up to 11. All vessels were successfully boarded by robbers armed with guns or knives and mostly took place at anchorage. Four crewmembers were taken hostage during these incidents, with two assaulted and one injured.

4. Tackling piracy is a team effort

Perhaps the biggest takeaway of this quarter’s report is the proven importance of the 24-hour manned IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC), which has provided the maritime industry, governments and response agencies with timely and transparent data on piracy and armed robbery incidents received directly from the vessels or owners, flag states or navies. The PRC’s prompt forwarding of reports and liaison with response agencies—using Inmarsat Safety Net Services and email alerts, all free of charge—has already helped bolster the response against piracy and armed robbery, keeping seafarers safe.

“One of the strongest weapons triggering the fight against piracy is accurate statistics,” said Mr Mukundan. “There should be free and reciprocal sharing of information between the IMB PRC and regional information centres. With a clearer picture of when and where violent incidents are taking place, authorities are able to better allocate their resources to tackle this global issue.”

Source: Hellenic Shipping News

FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Sri Lanka: Future of Maritime Security

This is the eighth successive year in which the Galle Dialogue International Maritime Conference is being held in Sri Lanka, attracting to our island nation, personnel from navies both near and far, and academics and experts in maritime affairs. I am personally drawn to this Conference just by its title for two reasons. ‘Galle’ is my hometown.

But not just only that. Galle is a city that has played an important role in Sri Lanka’s maritime interactions, in turn influencing the very history of our nation. For instance; our first contact with the United States of America probably took place when an American merchant ship called at the Galle harbour somewhere around the same time that the new American republic adopted its constitution; Galle is said to be the port from which King Solomon reportedly received ivory and peacocks; recorded history tells us that Galle was a prominent sea port through which Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Malays, Indians and the Chinese were all conducting business with our island nation; in 1411, a stone tablet was erected in Galle in three languages – Chinese, Tamil, and Persian – to commemorate the second visit to Sri Lanka by the Chinese admiral Zheng He; and the modern history of Galle, which has left a deep impact on our country, is said to have begun with a small fleet of Portuguese ships, being blown off course by a storm, finding their way to Galle. The rest is well-known with an impressive Dutch fort still standing as a symbol of that part of our history. The second reason I like the title is for its emphasis on ‘Dialogue’. Especially being a diplomat, the importance of clear, meaningful, rational dialogue for every conceivable issue in life, and indeed between the navies of the world, cannot be emphasized enough. There is an ancient saying which all of you must have heard that “Jaw-Jaw is better than WarWar”.

We in Sri Lanka, having experienced prolonged conflict as a result of separatist terrorism and two youth insurrections, know how true this really is. We recognize the vital importance of dialogue for the prevention of conflict, for the forging of greater understanding, and for the creation and sustenance of peace, stability, and social harmony. And we must all embrace ‘Dialogue’ as the means for decision-making at all levels for the progress and benefit of all our peoples. It is ‘dialogue’ that will make us forge better partnerships and more efficient and effective networks against the non-state actors that engage in piracy, drug trafficking, human trafficking and criminal activity in the seas. It is open ‘dialogue’ that will make us coordinate and communicate better with the public of our respective nations, creating more awareness about the important work that the navies do, and address the concept of ‘maritime blindness’. It is ‘dialogue’ that will create greater understanding that can lead us towards strategic harmony and convergence. In my view, the importance of this annual Maritime Conference lies in its objective of open and transparent ‘dialogue’. None are excluded. Everyone is welcome. It is an inclusive forum that provides a platform for ‘dialogue’ with the potential for bringing problems and challenges to the table, for discussing ways and means of managing or resolving them, for the betterment of all. It is extremely encouraging for us to see this forum keep growing, drawing more and more personnel from navies around the world, government officials, defence and security specialists, strategists, academics, and representatives from international organisations, the private sector and the media. The theme of this Conference is ‘Greater Maritime Visibility for Enhanced Maritime Security’.

Sri Lanka, as we all know, is an ‘island nation’ that is geographically situated in a significant location in the Indian Ocean, or might I say, the ‘Orient’. Naturally one would therefore expect the people of our country to identify more with the seas, and have greater awareness about the work and importance of the Navy. But for some reason, I feel that it has not been so. The Navy, to my mind, has not had its due share of public profile despite the important role it has been playing over the years, including in the combating of terrorism in the country. I also believe that, despite being an island, there is not enough public awareness about the ‘maritime domain’ itself, and its significance, or the role it plays, or the impact it has, on the day-today lives of the people in our country.

The Galle Dialogue Maritime Conference has perhaps helped somewhat in creating greater visibility and awareness within the country in recent years, about the importance of the oceans, the issues involving the maritime domain, and the significance of the Navy; but not enough. We need more informed, meaningful and well researched dialogue, and awareness creation of all aspects of the maritime domain – its significance, and its impact on the day-today lives of the people, both at present, and with a focus on the future. Especially as a country that is an island, the Navy, the academia, the media, and all the stakeholders within our country must do more to create awareness within Sri Lanka, amongst our own people – children in schools, youth, university students of all disciplines, civil servants, and the general public – about the ‘maritime domain’ – what is it all about, and the significance of the maritime domain for people both within the country and beyond, the importance of caring for the seas and the maritime environment, the need for its preservation, as well as humankind’s dependence on the oceans. The public has this expectation that whatever they want will be available whenever they want it, in the shops, supermarkets, and on their tables. They feel that it is the responsibility of the Governments that they elect to ensure that.

But most are hardly aware of the processes through which their many wants are met. Not only in the case of Sri Lanka, but in most parts of the world today, people’s needs are met through seaborne means. Those who are aware of this, including of the details of the intricate processes by which their needs are met, are very little. This is an acute form of ‘maritime blindness’. This shows a lack of awareness about economic, security, and strategic issues associated with the international use of the ocean commons. This lacuna must be addressed. As the maritime realm becomes increasingly more significant in the context of our nation’s development, I think it is vital that the Navy gets more involved in the task of implementing our nation’s renewed and progressive vision for itself as a reconciled, peaceful, stable, and prosperous nation.

In this context, it is necessary for the Navy to define itself as being embedded deeper in the identity of our nation as a key institution that is of vital service to the Sri Lankan nation and all of its people. It is also necessary that the public considers the Navy as an integral part of our nation’s core identity. It must be considered as an institution that is of service not only to the people of Sri Lanka, but to the world beyond; a force for good, carrying Sri Lanka’s flag in collaborative missions in the region and beyond, out there in the high seas – making sea lanes safer for shipping, for the free flow of goods, participating in humanitarian, evacuation and disaster relief operations, and contributing to regional and global security. This is also a projection of our nation’s values. What modern post-conflict Sri Lanka stands for: a peaceful Indian Ocean that is inclusive; a rules-based order, following international norms and practices; the freedom of navigation and overflight; safe sea lanes that allow for the free flow of goods, both for us and our partner nations; and the peaceful rules based settlement of disputes.

The Navy must view itself, and the nation must consider the Navy, as an extension of Sri Lanka’s diplomacy of peace and goodwill. Indeed, greater maritime visibility is essential for enhanced maritime security. Networking and working in partnership with other navies and other institutions and organisations that are operating in the maritime domain – both governmental and non-governmental – is necessary in this endeavour. Let me highlight some issues that require attention in the maritime domain around us, for better maritime management and security: the protection of the marine environment and the control of maritime pollution; the managing of the problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and the protection and observation of fishing regulations; the protection of exclusive economic zones and the managing and protecting of resources; combating drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms smuggling and piracy; ensuring energy security by safeguarding the energy supply chains that are vulnerable to disruption at maritime choke points such as the Strait of Malacca, Bab-elMandeb, the Suez Canal, the Turkish Straits and the Strait of Hormuz; managing port security and ensuring secure cargo loading; ensuring the safety of the seas for tourism; dealing with maritime terrorism; ensuring that almost 90% of the world’s goods that are transported via sea have a safe and secure passage; and ensuring that the tremendous volume of electronic financial transactions, electronic-mails, and phone calls that are transmitted through oceanic submarine cables is safe. Working in partnership, and the sharing of knowledge, information, skills, expertise, and best practices, is essential, as no single entity, or no single navy or country can succeed in meeting these challenges in the maritime domain on its own.

It is the oceans that engendered life. The life of humans and all beings on our planet is dependent on the good health of our seas. Our ancestors, perhaps, were conscious that if we did not take care of the ocean around us, that such would lead to the eventual end of life as we know it, on the land that we occupy. Yet, this knowledge has slipped us by, as we walked the path of what we call ‘progress’. It is only now that we are once again gradually getting back in touch with the ancient wisdom. The sea belongs to all, and we belong to the sea. It is our resource of the last resort. Therefore, the public must be made more aware of our efforts in the maritime domain and we must involve all stakeholders and the public in all our efforts relating to the maritime domain. It is important for the world’s navies and maritime experts to develop and implement effective programmes to educate citizens about the importance of the oceans as marine superhighways, and the roles and missions of their navies, coast guards, and other related institutions and organisations in protecting the interests of their people and their nations, on the ocean commons and in littoral waters.

Source: Sri Lanka Guardian

FacebookTwitterGoogle+
Skip to toolbar