IMO terror workshop

Legal experts and port and maritime security officers from Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka have gathered at International Maritime Organization (IMO)  in London (27-29 November) for a focused sub-regional workshop on implementing transport-related (maritime) counter terrorism instruments.

A press note from IMO said that the joint United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and IMO Counter Terrorism/Security sub-regional workshop was a follow-up to three national workshops in the same countries.

“This is part of an ongoing UNODC/IMO project to boost implementation of IMO maritime security and counter terrorism treaties, including SOLAS Chapter XI-2 and the suppression of unlawful acts (SUA) instruments. These are key elements of the international counter terrorism instruments,” it said.

The emphasis of the capacity building is on the need for good supporting national legislation, as well as multi-agency collaboration.

The national workshops have recognized the benefits of developing national maritime security strategies and national counter-terrorism strategies. Representatives from the United Kingdom, who have developed both, contributed their experiences in strategy development at this sub-regional workshop.

Interport Police and the UN 1540 Committee also participated in the workshop. The World Customs Organization (WCO), UNCTED and Interpol will be involved in future workshops on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction via the maritime domain.

The ongoing joint UNODC/IMO Counter Terrorism/Security project will continue, with table-top exercises in Indonesia, Malaysia and Viet Nam in early 2019, and with a regional meeting planned for February 2019 which will include Philippines, which recently completed a table-top exercise tailored for testing contingency plans on possible terrorism-related incidents in the maritime domain.

Source: Maritime Security Review

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Egypt, France conduct naval drill

Egyptian and French naval forces have carried out joint military drills across the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday.

According to the Egyptian military spokesman, Tamer el-Refaie, the training included the implementation of a realistic scenario of meeting the challenges facing maritime security, combating terrorism and protecting vital maritime targets such as gas and oil platforms against typical threats.

Egypt regularly holds military exercises with Arab, African and Western states to boost military collaboration and exchange military expertise.

In early November, Egyptian and French naval forces carried out joint military drills across the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt also started the “Arab Sheild 1” joint drills with forces from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Jordan at Egypt’s Mohamed Naguib military base in the Mediterranean province of Matrouh, the largest base in the Middle East and Africa.

Source: Maritime Security Review

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Perpetrators pretended to be stevedores rob bulker in Cam Pha, Vietnam

In its weekly report for 27 November- 3 December, ReCAAP ISC informed of one incident of armed robbery against ship in Asia, involving the Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier ‘Alpha Bulker’ while at anchor in Cam Pha loading anchorage, Vietnam.

While at anchor, about seven perpetrators (not armed) pretended to be stevedores and boarded the bulk carrier. They damaged the midship locker, stole ship’s stores and escaped. The crew was not injured. The incident occurred on the morning hours of 17 October. The location of the incident is depicted herebelow:

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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PIRACY IN THE GULF OF GUINEA

The authorities could do more to ensure sanity in the Gulf of Guinea

When in August the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), an arm of the International Chamber of Commerce, released its latest report on the state of piracy in the world for the first half of this year, it was no surprise that there were more incidents in Nigeria (31) than any other country. And that should worry the authorities especially since the increase of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, according to the report, has led to higher shipping costs since vessels are now compelled to insure their crew aside paying for higher security costs. Describing them as “unacceptable”, the Director of IMB, Pottengal Mukundan said reports indicate more violence against ships and crews in the Gulf of Guinea, particularly around Nigeria than anywhere in the world.

That the cost of this menace to the country is very high is evident. Early this year, the United Nations Security Council disclosed that Nigeria is losing about $1.5 billion a month due to piracy, armed robbery at sea, smuggling and fuel supply fraud in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG). According to Ambassador Michele J. Sison, the United States’ Deputy Representative to the UN, the root cause of piracy in the region are ineffective governance structures, weak rule of law, precarious legal frameworks and inadequate naval, coast guard, and maritime law enforcement. “The absence of an effective maritime governance system, in particular, hampers freedom of movement in the region, disrupts trade and economic growth, and facilitates environmental crimes,” she said.

To say the least, this spate of attacks is worrisome as it has given Nigeria and other countries in the Gulf of Guinea a very negative image in the comity of maritime nations. It has also led to the high cost of freight as ship owners and crew members often demand for high insurance premium before embarking on any voyage to Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea. In the first half of this year, according to the EOS Risk Group, there were dozens of Nigerian pirate attacks on merchant and fishing vessels in the Gulf of Guinea. “Most concerning this year has been the resurgence of ‘petro-piracy’, involving the hijacking of tankers for oil theft,” said Jake Longworth, senior intelligence analyst at EOS Risk. “The return of petro-piracy has been accompanied by an associated increase in the geographical reach of Nigerian pirate gangs, leading to attacks in the waters of Benin and Ghana.”

But the negative impact on our economy goes beyond oil theft. Apart from reducing the number of vessels calling at the nation’s seaports due to the fear of an imminent attack, it has helped in no small measure to increase the cost of doing business in Nigeria as ship owners and the consignees now charge higher than they do for other countries. The huge costs are eventually passed off in the cost of freight to the final consumer. The high number of lives lost to such crime aside, piracy drives fear into shipping practitioners, especially ship captains and master mariner.

While there is unanimity among shipping practitioners that sea piracy cannot be totally eradicated, it is also a fact that with concerted efforts by all the relevant stakeholders, the menace can be minimised in our country. In addressing the challenge, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr Dakuku Peterside said recently that a legal framework that prescribes stiffer sanctions, a more vigorous and vigilant military-led patrol and better intelligence gathering network would be required.

We hope Dakuku and his team will help to put such measures in place so that the Nigerian territorial waters will not continue to harbour criminals.

Source: THISDAYLive

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COMBINED TASK FORCE 151 COMPLETE COUNTER PIRACY FOCUSED OPERATION IN THE GULF OF ADEN.

CTF 151 recently conducted Operation Haka on behalf of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a Counter Piracy Operation in the Gulf of Aden (GOA)/Socotra Gap.

This was completed as part of the Kuwait Navy-led CTF 151’s enduring mission to counter piracy, and to contribute to wider maritime security in the region.

ESPS Castilla personnel visit  ROKS Wang Geon

Operation Haka was held over the period 16-23 November 2018, and was conducted with the dedication and assistance of adjacent forces within CMF, the European Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) CTF465, Independent Deployers and regional stakeholders. Units consisted of five ships, six aircraft, and observers from an additional five Maritime organisations. Operation HAKA aimed to strengthen effective security and regional partnerships across the GOA/Socotra Gap through a number of operational activities and training opportunities enhancing maritime security through air and surface surveillance.

Captain Ali Al-Rashidi, Kuwait Navy, Commander CTF151 said: “I am very impressed by the professionalism and efficiency demonstrated by all participating units in Focused Operation Haka. The participation from CMF units alongside independent deployers, and commercial vessels shows the determination of the combined contribution to support counter piracy efforts.”

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ESPS Castilla and ROKS Wang Geon learning to operate together.

One of the highlights of the operation was a boarding exercise conducted between INS Sunayna and the cargo vessel Maersk Seletar, providing a rare training opportunity to work together to enhance cooperation and coordination between regional contributors. This also gave the Indian Navy sailors an opportunity to practice boarding a container ship and exercise their counter-piracy techniques.

There were a number of key objectives achieved throughout the operation; this included increased coordination with adjacent forces focusing on presence, response, enhanced information exchange and maritime awareness. This was conducted through collaboration and engagement with regional counter-piracy stakeholders in order to promote CMF’s Counter Piracy efforts. Achievements throughout the operation including two Passing Exercises (PASSEXs), a boarding exercise, and numerous approach and assist visits with local mariners. One PASSEX was conducted with Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force warship JS Ikazuchi, and an Independent Deployer patrol vessel of the Indian Navy, INS Sunayna. This PASSEX included a series of communications and maneuvering exercises, helicopter and small boat operations. The second PASSEX was conducted between EU NAVFOR’s CTF465 Spanish ship ESPS Castilla and South Korean destroyer ROKS Wang Geon. This PASSEX included a series of communications and maneuvering exercises, boarding training, helicopter and small boat operations. Both PASSEXs aimed to deepen the level of engagement between ships, and enhanced force interoperability for counter piracy operations in the region.

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PASSEX: Farewell pass between JS Ikazuchi and INS Sunayna

One of the key objectives of the operation is growing regional counter piracy capacity through engagement, cooperation, and coordination of regional military forces. Working together on counter-piracy operations helps to strengthen understanding, interoperability and mission success. Regular operations and training exercises, such as Operation HAKA are essential in making this happen, developing interoperability between nations in the maritime and air domains, whilst promoting security, stability and prosperity in the region. This operation provided a good opportunity for stakeholders to test and prove their ability to work together and ensure operational effectiveness and interoperability for counter piracy operations.

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ESPS Castilla Helicopter preparing for deck landing on ROKS Wang Geon

Source: COMBINED MARITIME FORCES (CMF)

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Eyes in the sky

If all goes as planned with the scheduled SpaceX launch Sunday, a startup called HawkEye 360 will have a trio of satellites resembling toaster ovens circling the globe, scanning for pirate radio.

The Washington-area company is one of 35 paying customers strapped to the top of the Falcon 9 rocket, a crowd of cosmic enterprises boldly pushing the private sector into parts of the universe that were once solely the province of sovereign space agencies. The passenger list includes a Honeywell satellite to relay messages from tankers at sea, a company called Audacy that is building a system to speed communication among satellites, and the Nevada Museum of Art, which is launching an orbiting sculpture meant to be visible from Earth.

The HawkEye mission, meanwhile, is a bit more subtle—and lucrative. While space is full of satellites snapping pictures of the planet, the company said it will be the first commercial operation to capture radio frequency feeds down below.

“I spend as much time pitching the paradigm—the idea—as I do pushing Hawkeye itself,” said founder Chris DeMay. “It’s not necessarily intuitive to those who don’t come from the government, because [radio frequency] is not inherently visual.”

HawkEye engineers prepare the company’s first three satellites for launch.
Source: HawkEye 360

DeMay used to help the U.S. government do this kind of thing during his tenure at the National Reconnaissance Office. A few years ago, he realized that the growing crop of small satellites—or cubesats, as they are called—could accomplish missions similar to what’s being done by larger, more expensive government hardware.

The company he formed in 2015 had a simple pitch to government agencies: “We convert a capital expense to an operation expense.” Raytheon Co., the giant defense contractor, was an early investor and customer. It has engineers working with Hawkeye’s 31-person team and, in turn, will sell some of the company’s findings to its own government customers.

Sunday’s launch (it’s been rescheduled twice) will be the 18th mission by Elon Musk’s rocket fleet this year, and the first time such a large vehicle was entirely dedicated to ride-sharing. SpaceX split the $62 million cost among dozens of small clients, rather than NASA or some other major satellite operator. (The launch had originally been scheduled for earlier this month but was delayed.)

Once aloft, Hawkeye’s three satellites will be able to triangulate and pinpoint any given radio signal. Eventually, the company hopes to have 10 separate, three-satellite flocks zooming around the globe. With that much hardware, it will be able to scan any part of the world in less than 30 minutes. “It’s going to move pretty darn quickly once we have live data from space,” DeMay said.

So why is this important? “If you kind of look at the art of the possible … you can understand how that could be very beneficial for customers like Homeland Security or Coast Guard,” said Jane Chappell, Raytheon’s vice president of global intelligence solutions. In any type of conflict, or for law enforcement, the ability to zero in on people you might not otherwise see becomes a valuable—if perhaps Orwellian—product.

Chief Executive Officer John Serafini said about half of HawkEye’s demand will come from defense and intelligence clients, with the rest coming from a mixed bag—ranging from rescue groups searching for emergency beacons at sea to telecommunications companies eager to map bandwidth use.

A scan of vessels that turned off their GPS transponders over a one-month period.
Source: HawkEye 360

The first order of business, however, will be catching pirates. Smugglers and other wrongdoers of the high seas regularly turn off  their GPS transponders to avoid tracking. Instead, they use satellite phones and CB radios to coordinate with other ships or confederates on land, all of which will whisper to the Hawkeye toasters soaring overhead.

“They told me what they wanted to do, and I thought ‘Is that possible?’” recalled Robert Tremlett, a maritime analyst and former merchant marine. Tremlett spent much of his career escorting minesweepers and military ships near Iraq and Iran. Often, on those missions, a very expensive and sophisticated plane flew overhead to keep an eye out for dark vessels laying mines. HawkEye will be able to perform a similar service at a fraction of the cost.

“I see this as part of a solution to a massive problem,” Tremlett said.

Source: Maritime Security Review

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Yemen CG boost

Coast Guard has 37 boats equipped with weapons, communication equipment and updated radar.

Arab coalition hands Hadramout role to Yemen coast guard

JEDDAH: The Arab coalition officially handed over responsibility for protecting the Hadramout region’s coastline to the Yemeni coast guard on Thursday.
Boats equipped with weapons, communication devices and radar were given to the coast guard to help carry out its role.
Coast guard duties include managing regional ports, maintaining security on the Arabian Sea coastline, and preventing the smuggling of arms, drugs or people into the region.
The ceremony was attended by Yemeni Prime Minister Dr. Salem Ahmed Al-Khanbashi; Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Saeed Al-Jaber; US Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Toler; Gov. of Hadramout Maj. Gen. Faraj Al-Bahsani; and Maj. Gen. Abdullah Abu Hatim, commander of the Yemeni border guards.
Al-Jaber said in a press conference following the ceremony that Yemen’s coast guard would protect Yemen, the Arabian Peninsula and the region against smuggling and terrorism. Terrorism had been eliminated in Yemen, he said.
The envoy said that the Arab coalition had trained 1,000 Yemeni military officers and provided them with equipment, including radar and vehicles. Training had included military exercises and tactics.
Maj. Gen. Saleh Al-Ghamdi, representing the naval forces of the coalition’s Joint Forces Command, said that the coalition had trained new Yemeni coast guard personnel in Hadramout. More personnel would be trained, he said.
“Trainees have also received courses in inspecting, auditing and combating maritime piracy in cooperation with the US side as the Yemeni coast guard is a member of the Combined Maritime Forces 150, based in Bahrain,” Al-Ghamdi said.
He said that 37 boats equipped with weapons, communication equipment and updated radar had been given to Yemen’s coast guard in order to guard Hadramout’s coast. The 350 km coastline houses seven main ports and dozens of small harbors.
Commander of Yemeni Coast Guard Forces Maj. Gen. Khalid Al-Qamali said that the protection and management of the coast of Hadramout would be handled in cooperation with the leadership of the local authority and with the support of the Joint Forces Command of the coalition.
The coast guard sector in the Arabian Sea includes four governorates — Hadramout, Al-Mahrah, Shabwah and Socotra — with the headquarters of the main center located in the city of Mukalla.
Al-Qamali said that it had been agreed with the Saudi-led coalition to establish the sector in stages, with the first stage launched last August in Al-Mahrah followed by Hadramout.
Trainees demonstrated their new skills during the ceremony through security scenarios in which they stopped “hostile” boats.

The Arab coalition said later on Thursday that a missile launch platform in Saadah had been destroyed before a ballistic missile could be fired toward Saudi Arabia.

Source: Maritime Security Review

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CMF AND EU NAVFOR WELCOMES INTERNATIONAL DELEGATES TO 43rd SHADE CONFERENCE

On 20th and 21st November 2018, the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) co-chaired the 43rd Shared Awareness and De-confliction (SHADE) conference in Bahrain alongside the European Naval Force (Somalia) (EU NAVFOR).  Over 100 delegates attended the conference including maritime shipping partners and independent maritime naval force representatives from Russia, China, India and Oman.

The SHADE conference occurs biannually and is held in the Kingdom of Bahrain, with chair responsibilities rotating between CMF and EU NAVFOR.  The main purpose of the conference is to offer delegates the opportunity to discuss and understand the challenges and opportunities involved in countering piracy in the region and to ensure cooperation and de-confliction between navies when conducting these counter-piracy operations.  Successes by the organisations combating piracy, including the maritime industry applying Best Management Practices, have led to a reduction in incidents over recent years. However, the threat continues and the need for all maritime agencies to work closely and remain vigilant is essential to retaining freedom of navigation for legitimate seafarers.

Opening the conference, the Deputy Commander of CMF, Commodore Steve Dainton CBE said: “The 43rd SHADE provides the perfect opportunity for the maritime community to meet and discuss the on-going and combined efforts of our counter piracy operations. We have to recognise that, but for our efforts and for adherence to Best Management Practice, conditions in Somalia remain such that piracy could resurge at any point.”  He reminded the conference that information sharing and collaboration was key to ensuring maritime security and that CMF and EU NAVFOR would remain firm partners in these efforts.

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Deputy Commander CMF, Commodore Steve Dainton, addressing the delegates at the start of the conference.

CMF has conducted counter-piracy operations since 2009 and EU NAVFOR from December 2008, with both organisations playing a key role in countering piracy throughout that time. The suppression of piracy, however, remains an on-going effort with all military and industrial partners playing their part and SHADE remains a focal point for coordinating this activity.

Colonel Mark Totten MBE, the co-chair from EU NAVFOR said: “Countering piracy involves every interested party working together.  By sharing information and working collaboratively, we can keep piracy suppressed.” He went onto say: “It is essential that international maritime trade continues to use Best Management Practices in order to mitigate the threat of being pirated off the Horn of Africa.”

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EU NAVFOR Chief of Staff, Colonel Mark Totten, speaking at the conference.

Perspectives were heard from independent speakers from Russia, China, India and Oman.  Their countries play an important role in protecting and reassuring the merchant maritime community, as they often operate ships within the high threat area.  Each nation declared they would continue to communicate and share information where possible and that they shared a common goal – the free flow of commerce.

A keynote speaker representing the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), John Steed MBE, provided an update on the situation on the ground in Somalia, as well as stressing the need for a naval presence to actively discourage any resurgence in pirate activity.

Closing the conference, the conference Chairman and Chief of Staff to CMF, Commander Micah Maxwell USN, said: “It has been an honour to chair this conference and to once again bring together experts from different organisations, navies and merchant shipping communities. We have been able to discuss counter piracy through the development of best practices, whilst coordinating and de-conflicting our activities to ensure that international maritime trade in our region can continue to go about its lawful business, unhindered. All of this proves to me the importance of these SHADE conferences.”

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Combined Maritime Forces Chief of  Staff, Commander Micah Maxwell,  addressing the conference.

The 44th SHADE is planned for the latter half of April 2019.

Source: COMBINED MARITIME FORCES (CMF)

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INDOMAPLHI exercises

Exercise to focus on piracy, Abu Sayyaf Group.

Zambo City hosts 4th trilateral security exercise

The city government was elated that this city is part of the trilateral security exercise, involving the navies of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines (Indomalphi).

Lawyer Eric Elias, officer-in-charge city mayor, welcomed on behalf of Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, the Navy contingent from the Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Laut (TNI-AL) and Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) in a ceremony at the port here Tuesday.

The arrival of the two foreign vessels – KRI Suri (802) of TNI-AL and KD Pari (3510) of RMN –marked the beginning of the Indomalphi 4th Trilateral Port Visit and maritime training activities for the navies of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines under the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement (TCA).

Elias said the city government is elated that Zamboanga “is part of this important pursuit, especially because security is part of the Salazar administration’s thrust for the city.”

Aside from Elias, the members of the contingent that welcomed the arrival of the KRI Suri (802) and KD Pari (3510) included Lt. Commander Ahmad Yunus, Indonesian Head of Mission; Commander Azeman Yusoff, Malaysian Head of Mission; officers and men of the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) and local government officials.

Capt. Richard Gonzaga, Naval Forces Western Mindanao deputy commander for fleet operations, said a series of activities, such as day tours, sports activities, capability demonstration and maritime cooperative training activities, will be conducted and participated in by representatives of each country at Wesmincom’s area of responsibility until Friday.

Gonzaga said the aim of the trilateral activity is to strengthen the relationship, enhance mutual cooperation and interoperability of the three countries through the development of combined rules of engagement and develop better understanding and cooperation to address common issues on common maritime waters.

The purpose of the TCA is to establish cooperation among the three countries in addressing terrorism, smuggling, kidnapping, intrusion, piracy, illegal entry, robbery at sea, drug trafficking, illicit trafficking in arms, theft of marine resources, money laundering, and marine pollution.

It is also aimed at securing the maritime waters, including the Tawi-Tawi fishing ground of Zamboanga-based fishing and canning industries, and to prevent trafficking in persons, as well as illegal immigration.

Source: Maritime Security Review

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Maritime piracy: Nigeria loses US$2.74bn in four years

Piracy attacks in the Nigerian maritime domain are taking alarming toll on shipping in Nigeria’s territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea. Aside earning the Nigerian waters the notorious status of been the most dangerous in the region, the situation was also said to be partially responsible for the nation’s bleeding economy as over US$2.74 billion was paid by the country in the past four years as insurance surcharges and other sundry surcharges imposed on Nigerian shipments simply because the country’s territorial waters is not safe for navigation.

These surcharges, Sunday Telegraph learnt, were passed on to the final consumers of goods and services imported into the country by the shippers.

This year alone, freight costs have reportedly risen six times, amid fears that insurance could also be rising as the menace of piracy and other criminalities continue to rise in the Nigerian waters. Meanwhile, statistics from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) shows that, “in the first four months of 2018, the number of incidents significantly increased in the region, with 36 reported, against 17 the same period in 2017.”

The same month, armed pirates attacked two vessels in separate incidents off the Coast of Bonny Island. The development left stakeholders worried that foreign shipping companies may introduce a minimum of $200,000 (about N72 million) as insurance premium before calling at the nation’s ports.

“The cost of shipping is now very high because they now increase freight almost on a monthly basis. They have increased it more than six times this year. At a time, it was increased by $500 or $600. Now, it’s over $5,200, from $2,200 for one container. This increase is affecting the prices of commodities because we will have to add the cost of shipment to determine our market price,” lamented importer, Okechukwu Nwobi.

Economic cost piracy rising

The Ocean Beyond Piracy (OBP) in a recent report showed that the economic cost of piracy to Nigeria has been on the increase in the last three years, reaching over $818.1 million in 2017, while about $213.7 million was spent to contract maritime security personnel protecting vessels in the region.

It revealed that regional spending on law enforcement and naval patrols increased by $13.2 million in the year. The report also showed that 1,726 seafarers were affected last year, while 100 crewmembers were taken hostage.

Two persons were killed. It suggested that attacks on cargo vessel are currently on the rise, as crude oil prices assume an upward swing.

“While only one incident of hijacking for cargo theft was recorded in 2017, incidents in early 2018 may suggest a return to the model,” the report notes.

Shipping companies patronising Nigeria and other West African ports are incurring additional expenses, as they are compelled to engage the services of private security guards, even though the Federal Government recently declared that such violates Nigeria’s constitution. A breakdown of the security cost by OBP showed that coastal states incurred personnel costs of about $213.7 million; affiliated escorts, $9.4 million; and private patrols, $134.9 million per year. It noted that Nigeria spends about $6.6 million yearly to protect its security anchorage area.

These are clearly demarcated areas where ships could safely anchor and wait to berth or conduct ship-to-ship (STS) cargo transfers. About four major international shipping companies operate in the country including Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company, Grimaldi and CMA/CGM in addition to smaller foreign and local shipping companies call at the Nigeria ports. According to the OPB report, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is estimated to have spent about $217.8 million on counter-piracy.

On insurance cost, the report states: “In addition to war risk insurance premiums, a number of ship operators take out risk insurance as additional protection for their crew. OBP further estimated that that in 2017, approximately 35 per cent of all ships transiting the Gulf of Guinea Listed Area carried this insurance at a cost totaling $20.7 million. It added that “the threat of piracy may lead to increased cargo insurance premiums.

While a comprehensive estimate of the piracy-related costs is impossible, it can be determined whether the costs associated with this type of insurance were higher or lower than in the previous year, based on the risk score assigned to the region by the Joint Cargo Committee (JCC) Cargo Watchlist. “In 2017, the risk score for the Gulf of Guinea remained classified as ‘high’ and Nigeria continued to have the highest risk score of all littoral states,” the report stressed.

Speaking on the worrying situation and the attendant loss to the Nigerian economy, a former director general of NIMASA, Temisan Omotseye, said; “Ship owners will tell you that they are not going anywhere east. They call it ‘five degree east’. Any ship that goes five degree east will have what is called, ‘war risk premium’. And each day a vessel stays in that domain, it pays $1000 to the insurance company. The insurance companies collect up to $300million per year on war risk and there is no claim.”

Nigeria leads in piracy attacks

Despite efforts by the Federal Government to reduce the cases of piracy and banditry in Nigeria’s territorial waters, the country still leads in pirates attack in the Gulf of Guinea in the first nine months of 2018, a report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has revealed. IMB in its latest quarterly report said a total of 156 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported to its Piracy Reporting Centre in the first nine months of 2018 compared to 121 for the same period in 2017. According to IMB, a total of 156 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in the first nine months of 2018 compared to 121 for the same period in 2017.

The 2018 figure is broken down as 107 vessels boarded, 32 attempted attacks, 13 vessels fired upon and four vessels hijacked –although no vessels were reported as hijacked in Q3 2018.This is first time since 1994when no vessel hijackings have been reported in two consecutive quarters. Speaking in Lagos during the 2018 World Maritime Day celebration, Secretary to The Government of The Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha disclosed that the Federal Government plans to invest in maritime security and local capacity development to reduce maritime piracy in the Nigerian waters so as to get a sizeable chunk of the N$6 billion (N2.16 trillion) of the annual freight cost for the country retained in the Nigerian economy.

Also speaking at the event, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said shippers spend between $5 billion and $6 billion annually on freight cost, while the maritime component of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry is worth an estimated $8 billion alongside seaborne transportation, oceanic extractive resource exploitation and export processing zones.

He said, “It is worthy to note that for effective contribution of shipping activities to the development of Nigeria’s economy, there is urgent need to curb and combat these illegal maritime activities in our waters as these crimes continue to constitute impediments to economic development. “As long as these crimes continue to pose danger to the Gulf of Guinea and our maritime domain, the benefits of the theme of this year’s World Maritime Day celebration will continue to be elusive,” he said.

Solution

It is commendable that the proposition by the Minister of Transportation to award a contract of over US$152million to an unknown Israeli security firm to import security platforms, operate them and train Nigerian security personnel (Navy) to secure Nigerian waters, has reportedly been cancelled by President Muhammadu Buhari, after the contract was roundly condemned by the Nigerian media. However, there is no gainsaying the fact that the Federal Government needs to up its game in the security of the Nigerian territorial waters to make it safe for seaborne trade.

It is against this backdrop that it is of utmost importance that the Federal Government deploys the platforms which the country acquired under its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Global West Vessel Specialists Limited, especially the much reported Danish fast armored boats, which the company purchased for the country. If those are not enough, more could be purchased and the contract needs to be awarded to a local firm, since the last time Nigeria awarded the contract to a local firm, Global West, they did well in securing the nation’s maritime domain.

Source: HELLENIC SHIPPING NEWS

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