No kidnappings involving Malaysians a win for Sabah in 2017

THE year 2017 saw no kidnappings involving Malaysians in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) this year, among other notable security issues.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had, on September 29, announced that the government would deploy about 500 People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) members as a pilot project to assist in monitoring security in Esszone.

Zahid, who is also home minister, said 6,148 Rela members out of 121,888 registered in Sabah would be deployed to Esszone in stages in the future.

On Oct 12, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, along with his Indonesian and Filipino counterparts, launched the Trilateral Air Patrol operations over the Sulu Sea to tackle cross-border crime, including terrorist threats and kidnappings.

Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, who is also co-chairman of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) Advisory Board, recently told the Sabah state legislative assembly that there had been no kidnappings in Esszone throughout the year.

The kidnapping of five fishermen by the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the southern Philippines off Lahad Datu on July 18, last year, was the last of such a case involving Malaysians.

In that case, all the men, aged between 24 and 63, were rescued by the Philippine military forces in March this year and returned safely to their families.

On December 4 this year, members of the security forces in Esszone gunned down a 31-year-old man, known as Commander Paliyak @ Yusuf, who was believed to be involved in a number of sea robberies and kidnappings in waters off Kunak and Lahad Datu since 2014.

According to Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun, 3.65 million tourists – out of whom  2.1 million were locals and 1.4 million foreigners – had visited the state up to October this year, a slight increase from the 3.4 million tourists recorded last year.

The year 2017 also saw the launch of two more work packages of the Sabah Pan Borneo Highway project by Prime Minister Najib Razak, bringing the total number of work packages launched so far to six.

On March 4, Najib launched the upgrading of the Sindumin-Kampung Melalia road alignment, spanning 28.4km, in Sipitang.

The project involved the upgrading of the existing two-lane road into four lanes, and the construction of two interchanges and three bridges to provide access to the oil and gas-based economic corridor between Sipitang and Kimanis.

Najib also launched the sixth package of the Pan Borneo Highway project stretching 19.6km to connect Putatan with Inanam on November 18.

Speaking at the launch of the Putatan-Inanam package, Najib said RM12.86 billion had been allocated for the construction of the 706km Pan Borneo Highway from Sindumin to Tanjung Simpang Mengayau on the west coast and from Ranau to Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Tawau on the east coast. – Bernama, December 25, 2017.

Source: The Malaysian Insight


Star Bulk Carriers paint job will just have to wait

Greek-owned supramax either targeted by pirates, or hard-up painters and decorators.

It looks like that post-Christmas paint job Star Bulk Carriers had planned for one of its supramaxes will just have to wait.

The 56,400-dwt Tron Legacy (built 2012) reportedly had some 882 litres of paint stolen while anchored off a port in Vietnam.

The incident aboard the Marshal Islands-flagged bulker took place at Hon Net Anchorage area, Cam Pha in position 20° 53.8′ N, 107° 16.6′ E.

The incident took place on 16 December, but has only just been reported by the Singapore-based Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP).

“ While at anchor, the duty AB on watch noticed six perpetrators speaking Vietnamese near the paint store and several others on the forecastle deck,” ReCAAP said.

“Initially, the crew thought that that they were the stevedores, but when he saw one of them carrying a bucket of paint from the paint store, he suspected they were thieves.”

The crew informed the duty officer who later informed the master who then made a public announcement, raised the alarm and mustered the crew.

Upon hearing the alarm, the perpetrators are said to have escaped via cargo barge moored alongside their green boat which was waiting for them as was the paint.

Vietnam has seen a number of incidents of piracy, or maritime robbery in recent months.

In one high profile incident in mid-October r obbers targeted a Scorpio Bulkers ultramax while it was anchored off Cam Pha Inner Anchorage.

The incident aboard the Marshal Islands-flagged 61,258-dwt SBI Echo (built 2015) saw ship stores and the crew’s personal belongings stolen.

Cam Pha, which is located in North Vietnam, is the country’s main coal export facility. It handled over 25mt of coal last year.

Source: Tradewinds


NIMASA Does Not Have Capacity To Fight Piracy – Mohammed

Anefi Mohammed, has called on both Transportation Minister and the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA) to buckle up and save the country’s waterfront from piracy and other sea robberies.

Mohammed, who is the vice chairman, International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA), Ports and Terminal Multi Services Limited (PTML) chapter, in an interview with INDEPENDENT, said that NIMASA does not have the equipment and manpower to fight sea piracy.

Mohammed who was also reacting to the country’s failure to qualify in category C during the recently conducted International Maritime Organisation (IMO) election, said that in the first place, the country wouldn’t have gone for the election as virtually the entire maritime infrastructure was dilapidated.

“I am not surprised that we failed in the bid. When you look at the situation in the country, you begin to ask yourself if we really have priorities. Generally, any nation that fails to develop its infrastructure, any nation that fails to listen to the yearnings of its citizens will always fumble at the international level.

“Here, we are talking of IMO, an international organization, what maritime infrastructure do we have in place or have we developed before going there in the first place?

Look at our ports that supposed to be the second revenue yielding to the country after oil. Today, look at the sorry situation of roads leading to all the ports and border stations. Do we have roads? Do we have electricity in the ports; first and foremost, we need to give priority to our infrastructure. IMO is not an Abuja gathering where we talk politics, it in about welfare and security of the maritime sector. Are we supposed to come out and vie for seat in IMO? When you say that Nigeria is giant of Africa, what I understand is giant of Africa in population.”

Mohammed called on the agencies to rise up to the occasion and take the maritime sector to the next level as we enter year 2018.

“My advice to the Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi and the DG NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, is that both are educated, if they do not have knowledge of the maritime sector, they should bring on board those who have the knowledge and work with them. They should bring on board professionals in the field to work with. This is the only way we can move the maritime sector forward,” Mohammed advised.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News


Tanker owners to take lead on cyber security

As cyber security becomes a growing issue for businesses globally, tanker owners will be a test bed for shipping thanks to new guidelines from major charterers.

And the ability of tankers to withstand new digital threats may be a factor in whether a ship is hired to load a cargo.

The Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF), an association that sets safety standards for petroleum transportation, issued a new version of its Tanker Management and Self Assessment (TMSA) with a chapter on cyber security. The new version of the key vetting document for shipowners and operators will replace one expiring at the beginning of 2018.

Along with piracy and smuggling issues, the new chapter requires owners to assess how to prevent viruses, hacks and malware from entering their ship’s onboard electronic systems.

The TMSA is not as big a requirement for chartering as OCIMF’s ship-inspection reports, says Intertanko marine director Phillip Belcher. But he also adds that an oil major “is very, very unlikely” to hire a ship if the owner does not have the latest TMSA in place.

Cyber security came into focus after the attack on AP Moller-Maersk earlier this year. The virus likely entered and mainly affected shoreside computer networks. But the world’s biggest shipping line saw marine operations halted as well.

The IMO is mandating that ships have cyber-security standards in place by 2021. Port state controls and classification societies may also be drafting cyber-security standards. But OCIMF and Intertanko, which helped draw up the standards, says cyber threats are growing such that something needs to be done quickly.

“By that time, it could be too late for the industry to address threats,” Belcher says. “We needed to get ahead of this issue.”

Since ships are mostly mechanical, Belcher says serious onboard cyber threats are still minimal.

“The idea that a hacker could take over all of a ship’s operations is remote in the extreme,” Belcher says.

But he adds that onboard systems have been breached accidentally. The introduction of electronic charting systems, which require frequent updates, is one area of vulnerability.

In one instance, Belcher says a deck officer used the USB port on the ship’s electronic charting system to charge his mobile phone. The phone then introduced a virus to the system.

As more components on a ship become electronic, Belcher says “the number of vectors for viruses will only increase”.

Jim Textor, a partner of Eversheds Sutherland, says the new TMSA encourages shipowners to have documentary evidence of how to handle cyber threats. Seafarers would be encouraged to lock unattended workstations, safeguard passwords, be wary of posting on social media and prevent misuse of memory sticks and flash drives.

Textor says the OCIMF’s cyber-security requirements will be another vetting stipulation prior to a ship being chartered or taking on a cargo.

He adds that if owners have not amended their safety management system to include cyber security, “there’s a likelihood, not a certainty, that the oil companies will not charter the ships”.

Textor says each oil company could have their own rules on how vessel owners should beef up cyber security.

But whether those guidelines result in broken charters may take a while to play out.

“I won’t know until mid to late January or February whether this will be a commercial problem,” Textor says.

Belcher, too, says it is unclear whether cyber-security standards will result in contract disputes or loss of charter deals. But owners will need to be on watch for the issue regardless.

“An onboard virus may become an issue for defining whether a ship is seaworthy,” Belcher says.

Source: Tradewinds


Nigerian Navy Rescues Chinese Fishermen from Pirates

On Thursday, the Nigerian Navy said that it rescued four Chinese fishermen from kidnappers near Igbokoda, an inland village about 90 miles east of Lagos. According to commanding officer Sylvanus Abbah, the four victims were taken from a trawler near Lagos on December 14. Commandos from the Nigerian Navy vessel Beecroft rescued the abductees from a camp in Ondo State.

“Naval operatives attached to Forward Operations Base (FOB) who sighted the kidnappers as they were entering Igbokoda gave them a hot pursuit,” said Abbah. “The kidnappers opened fire on the naval gunboat. There was a fierce gun battle between the suspects and the naval men and the hoodlums abandoned their boats and fled on foot through the creeks.” Efforts to track down and arrest the suspects continue.

An unknown number of kidnapping victims sustained gunshot injuries during the exchange of fire, but they have been treated and are in stable condition, Abbah said.

Army spokesman Ojo Adelegan confirmed the rescue in comments to Xinhua. Unlike Abbah, he reported that one of the pirates had been captured. Xinhua did not confirm that the Chinese nationals were fishermen or that they had been kidnapped in an act of maritime piracy.

Pirates capture 10 seafarers off Brass

The IMB reports that 10 crewmembers are missing after a bulker was attacked and boarded off Brass, Nigeria on December 14. The remaining crew sailed the vessel to a safe port.

Earlier the same day, at a position some 13 nm to the north, the crew of a freighter managed to fend off another pirate attack. IMB reported that four to five suspected pirates in a wooden boat approached the vessel and attempted to board. The master increased speed and took unspecified “anti-piracy measures,” deterring the attackers.

The Gulf of Guinea remains a persistent hot spot for piracy, and especially for maritime kidnapping. According to consultants Sea Guardian, 56 mariners have been abducted in the region over the course of the year to date.

Source: The Maritime Executive


Nigeria waters experience persistent pirates attack

Persistent pirate attack on Nigerian waters seems not to be abating, with about 10 crew members of a bulk carrier reported missing after an attack that took place around 32 nautical miles south of Brass, Nigeria.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, yesterday, said the unnamed bulker was boarded by six pirates from a small boat while underway on December 14.

The mariners are believed to have been kidnapped for ransom, while the remaining crew onboard sailed the vessel to a safe port.

A maritime security firm, Dryad Maritime informed that: “Pirate Action Group (PAG) stalking waters off the Niger Delta may have abducted up to 10 crew members from a bulk carrier south of Brass.”

The attack took place on the same day a group of four to five persons in a wooden boat approached and tried to board a general cargo ship underway. The ship was en route some 19 nautical miles south of Brass, Nigeria.

The boarding, according to the piracy watchdog, was thwarted as the master increased speed and took anti-piracy measures. The number of reported attacks off the Niger Delta keeps ramping up, with over 15 attacks reported in recent weeks.

This year alone, 56 mariners (excluding the latest casualties) have been kidnapped off the Niger Delta.

This is despite the efforts by the Nigerian Navy to detain those responsible for the recent attacks, even as they are said to have the description of an alleged mother vessel preying on the vessels in the region.

Unfortunately, it is the seafarers who pay the highest price, as they end up being held for ransom like a highly-valued commodity. Sometimes, their ordeal lasts for years, if talks between shipowners and pirates hit a stalemate. Other times, they are left to be rescued by maritime forces or they manage to escape.

A report by the United States Maritime Administration, International Maritime Bureau, had earlier declared Nigerian waters as deadly and unsafe.

The Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said the threats on the nation’s territorial waters are a part of the reasons the nation lost the Category C seat of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Peterside, who spoke on the sidelines of the G7++ Friends of Gulf of Guinea Group meeting in Lagos, said Nigeria’s insecure and unsafe waters contributed immensely to its woes at the IMO election.

He however noted that the “7 Friends of the Gulf of the Guinea Group” is one of the international initiatives the country is leveraging to strengthen the fight against piracy and other criminal activities on the sea.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News


INTERCARGO: On the latest piracy attack in West Africa

INTERCARGO is deeply concerned with the latest piracy incident off Nigeria. As reported, a 57k dwt bulk carrier, while en route from Lagos to Port Harcourt, was attacked by pirates 35 miles south of Brass, Nigeria on December 14 and was held under their control. Before the ship was released, the pirates kidnapped 10 crewmembers, including officers, and fled.

The seafarers are reportedly still held by the pirates. As the world and the shipping community are starting celebrations for the new year, 10 fellow seafarers remain in the hands of criminals. Our thoughts are with the seafarers, their families and their loved ones.

The above incident is a vivid reminder that piracy as an organised criminal activity remains a significant threat to international shipping, trade, and the people who serve it. It must be ensured that there is no relaxation or step back in the measures in place against piracy; moreover, efforts and necessary resources fighting piracy must be upgraded primarily in the most vulnerable regions, such as West Africa, the Gulf of Aden, and South East Asian sea corridors.

INTERCARGO has been participating throughout 2017 in numerous industry meetings and initiatives with all the involved stakeholders to ensure that industry guidelines remain relevant and that optimal countermeasures are duly allocated in the coming years, in sea and on land as required, to eradicate the plague of modern piracy.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News


Pirates kidnap 10 sailors off Nigeria: IMB

Pirates have kidnapped 10 sailors from a merchant ship off the coast of southern Nigeria in the latest attack in the restive region, the International Maritime Bureau said on Thursday.

“A bulk carrier underway was attacked and boarded by six pirates from a small boat. Ten crew members were reported missing. The remaining crew onboard sailed the vessel to a safe port,” the IMB said in a statement.

The kidnapping happened around 32 nautical miles south of Brass last week in the volatile Niger delta, a growing piracy hotspot in west Africa, it said.

The number of reported attacks off the Niger delta has been increasing in recent weeks, according to the Sea Guardian consultancy, with more than 15 known attacks.

56 mariners, excluding the latest casualties, have been kidnapped in the area this year, the consultancy said.

That number includes six crew members from a German-owned container ship who were abducted near the oil hub of Port Harcourt in October.

The IMB has recorded more than 100 piracy incidents in international waters this year, including shootings, attempted kidnappings and hijackings of ships.

It described in a recent report that the Gulf of Guinea remained a “hot spot for attacks”, despite a fall in the number of incidents elsewhere in the world.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News


6 suspected Somali pirates held in Seychelles face 30 years in prison

Six Somali nationals who were transferred to Seychelles after being caught attacking a container ship and a fishing vessel last month could face 30 years imprisonment if convicted.

That statement was made Thursday by David Esparon, the principal state counsel, in the Attorney General’s Office.

Esparon told SNA that the suspects will now face prosecution before the court after being charged with ‘committing an act of piracy’ and ‘attempting an act of piracy’ in the Indian Ocean.

The six Somali nationals were brought before Seychelles’ Supreme Court on December 11.

The Attorney General’s Office “has sufficient evidence to make up a strong case, but as the incident happened at sea it has some difficulties,” added Esparon.

The six suspects from Somalia were apprehended by an Italian navy frigate, ITS Virginio Fasan, after they attacked a Seychelles-flagged 52,000-tonne container ship and a fishing vessel last week, the authorities said. The incident took place over a 24-hour period in November from Friday 18 to Saturday 19 in the Southern Somali Basin.

The suspects were transferred to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, based on an agreement with the European Naval Force Operation Atalanta (EU NAVFOR).

Esparon said the suspected pirates will serve their time in Seychelles’ prison if they are found guilty by the court, but if their country decides to have then repatriated to serve their sentence in Somalia, this can be made possible.

Seychelles has been on the forefront of the fight against piracy since 2005, when the scourge began expanding, adversely impacting the nation’s tourism and fishing industries, the top pillars of its economy.

There are 15 Somali detainees in Seychelles’ main prison facility at Montagne Posee.

Source:  Hellenic Shipping News


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