Nigeria deploys new assets

The Nigerian Navy yesterday inaugurated 16 newly acquired warships and boats, and immediately deployed them to safeguard key oil installations in the oil rich Niger Delta region and the West African maritime domain.

The deployment was to further solidify the presence of the Nigerian Navy around the Gulf of Guinea and to also curb activities of pirates’ attacks on key installations and merchant vessels disrupting economic activities at the West African maritime domain.

The new acquisitions include two 110 MKII Fast Patrol Crafts (FPC)- NNS NGURU and NNS EKULU; four 72MKII Inshore Patrol Craft (IPC)- NNS GONGOLA, NNS OSE, NNS CALABAR, and NNS SHIRORO, and 10 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBS).

These boats, the navy said, would be deployed to protect critical oil installations in the Niger Delta as well as for joint operations and patrols of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) maritime zone E.

The two 110 MKII FPC, NNS NGURU and NNS EKULU, which were named after towns in Yobe and Rivers States, were put under the command of Commanders Emmanuel Fingesi and Andrew Zidon respectively.

In his address, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas, said the latest additions have increased the navy’s platforms acquisition in the last two years to over 200.

Noting that the navy has the challenging task of safeguarding the country’s maritime interests, Ibas said the service, in keeping with the realities, conducts frequent re-invention.

He said: “The acquisition of the six new OCEA FPC and 10 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBS) will narrow the capability gaps in enhancing security of the country’s maritime expanse.

“Their commissioning and induction respectively into the service is therefore another operational milestone for the navy as they will complement existing Maritime Domain Awareness Capability in the face of its inherent need for a potent interdiction capability.

“I must however be quick to observe that despite this commendable stride, we have barely scratched the outstanding deficit in the navy fleet. Capacity building therefore is a running priority of the navy. The navy continues to apply its double pronged approach of platform sourcing from both foreign shipyards and local manufacturing.

“Domestically, local boat building associates like Messrs Epenal Boat Builders and John Holt Plc which have accounted for the delivery of over 200 boats in the past have continued to be patronised. The navy dockyard remains productively engaged as it is on course for the delivery of a third straight Seaward Defence Boat (SDB), now a 42 meter boat.

“Furthermore, efforts are ongoing towards acquiring more fast patrol vessels for littoral waters up to the EEZ, while the construction of a hydrographic vessel and landing ship would further reinforce the navy’s regional maritime dominance.”

Also at the event were Defence Minister Mansur Dan-Ali; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani; Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris; Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy, Isa Misau; Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on the Navy, Abdulsamad Dasuki, and Director General, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, heads of military and paramilitary institutions in Lagos as well as captains of industries.

Inaugurating the platforms, Dan-Ali said the country was challenged by multi-faceted threats from both continental and maritime fronts with grave manifestations and increasing threats to maritime security.

He said crimes such as piracy and attack on strategic oil installations have complicated the country’s maritime security environment and threatened with dire consequences, the overall wellbeing of Nigeria.

Sourse: Maritime Security Review

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Robbers attempt to board ‘Maersk Mishima’ in Davao

ReCAAP ISC informed of one incident of armed robbery against ships in Asia. The ship involved was the Panamanian-flagged product tanker ‘Maersk Mishima’, while berthed at the Vicinity Insular Oil – Davao Bulk Terminal, Sasa, Davao City, in the Philippines.

While at berth in the early morning hours of 28 August, four perpetrators wearing dark clothes attempted to board the product tanker at the starboard quarter (stern area) using fire hose.

The duty personnel spotted the perpetrators, shouted at them and immediately informed the duty officer and other crew. Upon realising that the crew had been alerted, the perpetrators jumped from the ship and escaped using an outrigger motor banca.

After the occurrence, the crew immediately removed the fire hose, and checked thoroughly all stores, fire boxes and other items on deck. Nothing was stolen and the crew was not injured.

The ReCAAP ISC urges ship master and crew to report all incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships to the nearest coastal State and flag State, exercise vigilance and adopt relevant preventive measures taking reference from the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.

Source: SAFETY4SEA

 

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US says it’s ready to protect shipping in Gulf after Iran threat

Iran’s bluster about blocking the Strait of Hormuz could remain just that with the United States saying it is committed to ensuring the safety of the region. The US Central Command, which oversees its forces in the Middle East, said it is fully prepared to keep regional commerce flowing through the Arabian Gulf after a senior Iranian military official said his country’s navy would halt all Middle East exports if Iran is not allowed to ship its oil through the Strait.

“There will be no security for others either and no other crude will be exported from this region,” Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mohammad Bagheri said in reports carried by Iranian state media. This was the second such threat in two months after President Hassan Rouhani first made it in July.

Come November, Iran faces a second round of US sanctions which could cripple its ability to sell oil. This could bring the economy to its knees and Bagheri’s threat reflected the dire situation in his country. He went on to say that US and other allied forces in the region “know full well that the smallest mistake in the region will bear a heavy cost for them”.

Responding to questions from Khaleej Times, Major Josh T. Jacques of the US Central Command, said the US partners with “many nations to provide and promote security and stability in the region. Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.”

That said, there is no increased Iranian naval activity in the region and when asked if the Iranian navy had recently threatened US naval forces in the Arabian Gulf, Maj. Jacques said the “last unsafe and unprofessional interaction” was over a year ago.

US President Donald Trump had said in May that his objective is to bring Iran’s oil revenue to zero. The Strait of Hormuz is a strategic strip at the mouth of the Arabian Gulf through which 30 per cent of global oil flows.

What must be understood here is Iran cannot block the Strait under international maritime law because Hormuz is considered an “international strait” as it is the lone gateway to the Sea of Oman and then on to the Indian Ocean. This is clear in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The law states that all ships have to “right to passage” and countries along the Strait should not obstruct movement. But the Iranian parliament has not approved the 1982 UN law while the Iranian government signed it and, therefore, cannot violate the convention.

However, when Tehran came on board, it said it would recognise the “right of transit passage” only for countries vessels who were signatories to the convention – which the US is not.

The United States entered the region in 1980-1998 during the war between Iran and Iraq and has protected shipping in the region since then. Tehran considers the US as an illegal force since it is not a signatory to the UN convention. Hence, this “right of transit passage” does not apply to US ships, it says.

Washington interprets this differently and says the “right” is now part of the “common law” of international navigation, which Tehran should abide by.

The US navy’s 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain and its area of operations covers nearly 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The region includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab Al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News

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Update on Yemeni ports situation

The Swedish P&I Club issued a latest update regarding the port situation in Yemen as per 27 August 2018, according to data provided by their correspondent GAC.

Open/operational

  • Aden
  • Rudhum Oil Exporting Terminal
  • Mukalla
  • Ash Shihr Oil Exporting Terminal
  • Nishtun
  • Hodeidah
  • Saleef

Above ports/terminals are operating in a normal manner with no security issues that we are aware of.

Closed

  • Balhaf LNG Terminal
  • Mokha
  • Ras Isa Marine Terminal
  • Ras Isa Petroleum Products Reception Facility.

    Source: SAFETY4SEA

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Three accused police ‘pirates’ discharged from duty

Three Satun police officers who allegedly trespassed into Malaysian waters to arrest a Malaysian fishing trawler on Aug 19 have been temporarily discharged from official duties, pending an investigation, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said on Wednesday.

The trio were apprehended by Malaysian marine police during the incident. They would be released and returned to Thailand, either on Wednesday or Thursday, Gen Prawit said.

Meanwhile, they have been provisionally dismissed from official duties since it was found they had trespassed in Malaysian waters, a violation that could lead to both disciplinary and criminal action, he said.

It remained unclear whether the three demanded bribes from the fishermen, the deputy premier said. The investigation was still under way. They faced charges of piracy brought by Malaysian authorities.

Gen Prawit said the trio, who work out of Muang Satun police station, had no authority to intercept fishing boats at sea.

“I concede that the three officers behaved inappropriately by wearing uniforms and carrying arms and going into Malaysian waters, which are clear wrongdoings,” the deputy premier said.

The incident happened in the morning of Aug 19, after Thai authorities were reportedly informed that a fishing boat from Malaysia was spotted in Thai maritime territory.

The three police officers and an assistant village headman apprehended the boat and its crew, who contacted their country’s marine police for help.

Once Malaysian officers arrived, the Malaysian fishermen claimed the Thai officers had tried to rob them, leading to the arrest of the four Thai officials.

 

Source: Maritime Security Review

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Master confirms hijacking of Greek tanker Pantelena

Georgian master says crew was held for nine days off West Africa before being released.

The master of a Greek tanker that dropped off radars in West Africa has confirmed it was hijacked.

The 10,700-dwt Pantelena (built 2006) disappeared on 14 August off Gabon but was spotted last Thursday off Congo, with the Centre Regional de la Securite Maritime de l’Afrique Centrale (CRESMAC) saying the ship had lost contact due to inadequate technical equipment.

Missing Greek tanker spotted off Congo
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But the Tass news agency cited captain Lasha Gadelia as telling Georgian state television that the two Russians and 17 Georgians on board had been released after being captured by pirates.

“In the early hours of August 14, the tanker was captured by pirates, who held the crew for nine days,” he said.

“At that moment, my assistant was steering the vessel. They threatened him with firearms, and, after that, the tanker was hijacked. The pirates locked the crew in one of the cabins, where they were held for nine days.

“The pirates did no physical harm to the crew and gave them food and water from time to time,” he added.

The captain said the ship and its crew were released on 23 August, but did not elaborate on how.

The Russian embassy in Gabon told Tass that the condition of the Russian members of the crew was good and they have already contacted their relatives.

“The issue of returning them to their homeland as soon as possible is now being studied,” the embassy said.

The Russian diplomatic mission added that “the reasons why the ship went off radar screens is still unknown.”.

Owner Lotus Shipping of Greece has not responded to TradeWinds’ request for comment.

Source: Tradewinds

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Houthis attacks on commercial ships thwarted

A Saudi-led military coalition thwarted attacks by the Houthis. Namely, the movement used explosives-laden speedboats against commercial vessels, according to a Saudi-led coalition’s spokesman.

Earlier this week, the Houthis informed that they conducted an operation in Saudi waters, during which they hit a military target, Reuters reported.

The Saudi-led alliance noted it had taken all the necessary measures to protect merchant ships of the Houthis.

Earlier in August, Saudi Arabia informed that the oil shipments through the strategic Red Sea shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb are now continued.

Saudi Arabia had imposed a temporary halting of all oil shipments through Bab al-Mandeb, after Houthis rebels attacked two Saudi Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) in the Red Sea on July 25, slightly damaging one of them, according to an official statement by Minister Khalid al-Falih.

The incident comes in addition of a series of Houthi attacks on ships off the coast of Yemen, specially on the aftermath of the Saudi coalition’s closure of Red Sea ports back in November.

Responding to the threats arising from the conflict in Yemen, BIMCO, ICS and INTERTANKO published in early 2018 a guidance on maritime security in the southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb urging shipowners and operators to be aware of new threat patterns in the area.

Source: SAFETY4SEA

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Missing tanker found

The Panamanian-flagged tanker ‘Pantelena’ has docked at a port in Togo, after missing for over a week along with its 19 crew, the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Friday.

According to initial information by the Ialkani agency, contact with the ship was lost on 14 August, while it was sailing near the west coast of Africa, about 17 miles off Gabon in the Gulf of Guinea, which enhanced suspicions for a hijacking. The ship was reportedly transporting oil.

“Our guys are alive and well. The ship is already in the port of Lome and soon representatives of our company will meet them. I am almost certain that this was an attack by pirates,”

…the head of Ialkani, Anzhela Oganesyan, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The Ialkani agency said two Russian nationals and 17 Georgians were aboard the vessel, a dual purpose oil or chemicals tanker managed by Athens-based Lotus Shipping.

Vladimer Konstantinidu, deputy head of the Georgian foreign ministry’s consulate department, said the ministry had not yet been able to communicate with the returning crew, but could not rule out that the tanker had been hijacked.

The first half of 2018 marked the return of ‘petro-piracy’ (tanker hijackings for product theft) in the Gulf of Guinea following two years of dormancy, while a total of 35 seafarers were kidnapped for ransom in the region during this period.

In 2017, 10 kidnappings involving 65 crew members took place in Nigerian waters, while 16 vessels were fired upon, seven of which were in the Gulf of Guinea, according to ICC International Maritime Bureau’s (IBM) second quarterly report.

Meanwhile, all 2018 crew kidnappings have taken place in the Gulf of Guinea in six separate incidents. The report adds that the true number of incidents in the area is believed to be significantly higher than reported.

Source: SAFETY4SEA

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African countries commit to tackle maritime crime in Gulf of Guinea

Despite having big potential, the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) is one of the most dangerous places when it comes to maritime security, as it faces many threats. In order to mitigate this problem, naval chiefs from 38 countries gathered in Lagos for the International Maritime Conference (IMC) to try and find solutions.

Currently, GoG faces maritime terrorism, resource theft, and sabotage of supporting infrastructure, piracy and armed robbery, harming maritime trade and the economies of the countries around the gulf.

Piracy danger continues in the Golf of Guinea.

107 incidents were reported in the first six months of 2018. In addition, all 2018 crew kidnappings have taken place in the Gulf of Guinea in six separate incidents.

Nevertheless, the report mentions that the true number of incidents in the Gulf of Guinea is believed to be significantly higher than what is reported.

For this reason, naval chiefs from 38 countries recently gathered at Victoria Island, Lagos, for the International Maritime Conference (IMC). The IMC was organised to come up with solutions to maritime security problems in GoG. The conference was called: “Enhancing an Integrated Maritime Strategy for Security of the Gulf of Guinea”.

Before the conference, a sea exercise took place in an attempt to limit maritime crimes on the GoG waters. The exercise named ‘EKU KEGBE,’ included 12 Nigerian Navy ships, alongside others from the participating countries.

Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ete-Ibas explained that this exercise aimed to enhance regional cooperation, which is increasing lately in order to tackle maritime crimes.

The representatives of the countries recognised that security in the Gulf of Guinea is crucial and that maritime crimes pose a significant threat to their economic growth.

Source: SAFETY4SEA

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Security in the IOR

South Africa could make the Indian Ocean Rim Association the top platform for achieving maritime security.
  This year the Indian Ocean has seen a drop in piracy risks and an increase in maritime development and attention to the blue economy.
This is largely thanks to improving maritime security.Africa will benefit from efforts to further secure and develop the Indian Ocean. In its role as chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), South Africa is making the forum the most relevant and promising organisation on maritime security and the blue economy.
The 18th meeting of the Council of Ministers – IORA’s top decision-making authority – takes place in November and will mark one year since South Africa assumed the chair. IORA was formed in 1997, but was inconspicuous for many years. It was revived under India’s lead from 2011-13, Australia from 2013-15 and Indonesia from 2015-17. These countries re-established it as a prominent regional organisation and identified its priorities.
South Africa aims to consolidate the gains of the past chairs by strengthening IORA’s institutions. It is doing this by expanding ties between member states, other partners and important regional bodies like the African Union (AU).

South Africa intends to align its chairing of IORA to the implementation of the AU’s 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy. The AU can then encourage all states, not simply those on the Indian Ocean, to prioritise their maritime policies. This will also go a long way to help revire AU maritime initiatives.

Second, South Africa can explore ways of deepening the involvement of IORA Dialogue Partners (the United States, Japan, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Egypt).

The AU can encourage all relevant states, not only on the Indian Ocean, to prioritise maritime policies

Finally, South Africa needs to ensure strong continuity when it hands over to the incoming IORA chair – the United Arab Emirates.

It is apt that the recent IORA meetings in Durban began with a dedication to Nelson Mandela, as South Africa celebrates the centenary of his birth. In 1995 the former president prayed a crucial role in establishing the organisation.

Mandela promoted the idea of an Indian Ocean platform for states to pursue peaceful socio-economic cooperation. Twenty-two years later, his words are still the benchmark for assessing South Africa’s role as IORA chair, and emphasise the need for a strong maritime body.

Source: maritime security review

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