EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta: Council prolongs the Operation and decides on new headquarters and new Operation Commander

The Council today extended the mandate of EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta until 31 December 2020. The Council also decided to relocate the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Operational Headquarters from Northwood (UK) to Rota (Spain), and to Brest (France) for the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) as of 29 March 2019. It appointed Vice Admiral Antonio Martorell Lacave from the Spanish Navy as new Operation Commander to take command from Major General Charlie Stickland on the same date. The relocation and change in command are required due to the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU.

Today’s decision also allocated a budget of €11.777 million for the common costs of the operation for the period 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020.

EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta contributes to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. The operation is part of the EU’s comprehensive approach for a peaceful, stable and democratic Somalia.

The operation also protects vessels of the World Food Programme and other vulnerable shipping, monitors fishing activities off the coast of Somalia and supports other EU missions and programmes in the region.

Today’s decision was adopted by written procedure.



Heavy fighting near Yemen’s Hodeida kills dozens

Heavy fighting along Yemen’s west coast between pro-government forces and Shiite rebels in recent days has left dozens dead from both sides, Yemeni officials and witnesses said on Monday.

Government forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, have been advancing in the area in recent weeks as they battle Iran-allied rebels known as Houthis. The fighting has escalated as government forces try to retake the port city of Hodeida, the main entry point for food in a country teetering on the brink of famine.

The government has been waging an offensive to seize the rebel-held district of Zabid south of Hodeida, the officials said. The offensive is being waged by ground troops carrying sophisticated weapons, including shoulder-fired missiles, with air cover from the Saudi-led coalition, they said.

The fighting to capture Zabid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, killed dozens from both sides of Yemen’s conflict, now in its fourth year.

The coalition on Monday targeted rebels in the district of ad-Durayhimi south of Hodeida with airstrikes, killing at least 18 people, the officials said. The rebels, known as the Houthis, were trying to break into ad-Durayhimi, about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) south of Hodeida International Airport, they said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, while the witnesses did so for fear of reprisals.

United Nations Human Coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande said airstrikes hit and damaged a sanitation facility in Zabid and a water station that supplies the majority of the water to the city of Hodeida.

“These airstrikes are putting innocent civilians at extreme risk,” she said. “Damage to sanitation, water and health facilities jeopardizes everything we are trying to do. We could be one airstrike away from an unstoppable epidemic.”

Soldiers of Yemeni government army backed by the Saudi-led coalition take position during military operations on Houthi positions in the port province of Hodeidah, Yemen. (AAP)
Soldiers of Yemeni government army backed by the Saudi-led coalition take position during military operations on Houthi positions in the port province of Hodeidah, Yemen. (AAP)

Also on Monday, the coalition said it destroyed missile launch sites in the rebels’ northern home base of Saada province, according to a statement carried by the Saudi state-run al-Ekhbariya TV channel.

The Saudi-led coalition launched the campaign to retake Hodeida in June, with Emirati troops leading the force of government soldiers and irregular militia fighters backing Yemen’s exiled government. Saudi Arabia has provided air support, with targeting guidance and refueling from the United States.

Hodeida, home to 600,000 people, is some 150 kilometers southwest of the capital Sanaa. The campaign to take Hodeida threatens to worsen Yemen’s humanitarian situation as it is the main entry point for food, humanitarian aid and fuel supplies to the country.

Aid groups fear a protracted fight could force a shutdown of the port and potentially tip millions into starvation. Some 70 percent of Yemen’s food enters via the port, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies. Around two-thirds of the country’s population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are at risk of starving.

The Houthis seized control of Sanaa in September 2014, and later pushed south toward the port city of Aden. The Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict in March 2015 and has faced criticism for a campaign of airstrikes that has killed civilians and destroyed hospitals and markets.

The Houthis, meanwhile, have laid land mines, killing and wounding civilians. They have also targeted religious minorities and imprisoned opponents. The stalemate war has killed more than 10,000 people.

Impoverished Yemen has been devastated by the stalemated three-year civil war that has left around two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27 million relying on aid, and over 8 million at risk of starving.

Source: Nine Digital


Another armed robbery reported in Chittagong anchorage

In its latest weekly piracy report, ReCAAP ISC informed of one incident of armed robbery against the Panama-flagged container ship ‘Ocean Nhava Shiva’, while anchored at Chittagong outer anchorage, Bangladesh, on 19 July.


Mauritius signs Jeddah Amendment on illicit maritime activity

Mauritius has become the 15th signatory to the Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct, the instrument developed and adopted by countries in the Western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden focused on repressing piracy and armed robbery against ships operating in the region.


Shipping Giant COSCO Hit by Ransomware

Chinese state-owned shipping and logistics company COSCO was reportedly hit by a piece of ransomware that disrupted some of its systems in the United States.

COSCO, one of the world’s largest shipping companies, described the incident as a “local network breakdown” in the Americas region. The firm says it has suspended connections with other regions while it conducts an investigation.

“So far, all vessels of our company are operating normally, and our main business operation systems are stable. We are glad to inform you that we have taken effective measures and aside from the Americas region, the business operation within all other regions will be recovered very soon. The business operations in the Americas are still being carried out, and we are trying our best to make a full and quick recovery,” COSCO stated.

While COSCO’s statement does not mention a cyberattack, the company told some news outlets that the disruptions are the result of a ransomware attack.

According to researcher Kevin Beaumont‏, the impacted infrastructure hosts COSCO’s website (, phone and email systems, and WAN and VPN gateways. The expert pointed out that the company resorted to using Twitter and Yahoo email accounts to communicate with customers.

The company’s U.S. systems still appear to be offline at the time of writing. It’s unclear if this was a targeted attack or if COSCO’s systems became infected as part of an opportunistic ransomware campaign.

If COSCO was truly hit by ransomware – it’s not uncommon for companies to misclassify cyber threats in the initial phases of an investigation – it would not be the first time a major shipping company has fallen victim to this type of attack.

One of the victims of last year’s NotPetya campaign, which caused losses of hundreds of millions of dollars for several major companies, was Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller–Maersk, which revealed that the incident forced its IT team to reinstall software on its entire infrastructure, including 45,000 PCs and 4,000 servers.

As a result of the attack, Maersk employees had to manually process 80 percent of the work volume while systems were being restored and the incident cost the company over $300 million.

Source: Hellenic shipping news


Eight robbers board ship in Chittagong anchorage

In its weekly report for 17-23 July, ReCAAP ISC informs of one incident of armed robbery against a ship, reported by Focal Point (Japan) and Contact Point (Hong Kong). The incident took place in the early morning hours of 4 July in Bangladeshi waters and involved the Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier ‘Medi Firenze’.

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.

The last actual incident of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebs Seas occurred on 23 March 2017 and the last attempted incident on 16 February 2018.

However, as the threat of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Sea is not eliminated, ReCAAP ISC maintains its advisory issued via the ReCAAP ISC Incident Alert dated 21 November 2016 to all ships to reroute from the area, where possible.

Source: Safety4Sea


Bahri VLCC damaged in Red Sea attack by Houthi rebels

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Ministry suspends all oil shipments through the Bab-al Mandeb Strait after Wednesday attack that damaged one of the tanker giants VLCCs.

Saudi Arabia has identified two Bahri VLCCs as being the vessels attacked by Yemen’s Houthi movement in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait on Wednesday morning.

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement that both VLCCs were fully laden at the time, and identified Bahri as the owner.

One of the VLCCs sustained minimal damage, the statement said.

“Fortunately, there were no injuries or oil spill that would have resulted in catastrophic environmental damage,” it read.

” Efforts are currently underway to move the damaged ship to the nearest Saudi port.”

Bahri confirmed today that one of its VLCCs was damaged in what it described as an incident in the Red Sea.

“The VLCC suffered minor damage and no human injuries or environmental damage have been reported,” the company said in a statement sent to TradeWinds, without elaborating further or identifying the ship.

Saudi Arabia has suspended oil shipments through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait pending an assessment of the security situation in the area.

“Saudi Arabia is temporarily halting all oil shipments through Bab al-Mandeb Strait immediately until the situation becomes clearer and the maritime transit through Bab al-Mandeb is safe,” the Energy Minister’s statement said.

The Bab al-Mandeb Strait, which runs close to the shoreline of Yemen, is the main shipping lane linking the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean.

It considered one of the world’s most strategic waterways and is heavily patrolled by United Nations naval forces.

The Houthi movement has in the past threatened and attacked vessels carrying Saudi oil because of the active role the country is playing in Yemen’s ongoing civil war.

Source: Tradewinds


Coalition destroys Al Houthi boat off coast

UAE forces down two booby-trapped drones targeting Yemeni government loyalists and civilians.

Cairo: UAE forces, part of an Arab Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-allied Al Houthis in Yemen, destroyed a boat loaded with explosives near the country’s western coast, the official agency WAM reported on Tuesday.

The boat belonging to Al Houthi militants was being used to carry out terrorist operations in a major navigation route in the Red Sea, the agency added.

The Iran-aligned extremists have repeatedly threatened to attack oil tankers using Bab Al Mandab, a vital waterway between the Arabian Peninsula and Africa, linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal.

Last month, the Arab Coalition unleashed a massive offensive dubbed Golden Victory aimed at driving Al Houthis out of the Red Sea city of Hodeida in west Yemen.

The campaign, the biggest in Yemen’s three-year-old war, has been temporarily halted in support of UN efforts to restart long-stalled peace talks and avert an all-out battle in Hodeida.

Al Houthis are believed to have taken advantage of the pause to replenish their military arsenal and ramp up their violations against civilians.

The UAE forces linked to the Coalition also intercepted and downed two drones carrying explosives, WAM reported on Tuesday.

Both Iranian Qasef-1 drones were aimed at Yemeni forces loyal to the internationally recognised government supported by the coalition in the coastal city of Al Mokha, and a densely populated area in the district of Al Khokha, WAM added.

The aborted attacks were planned by Al Houthis to make up for the military setbacks they have recently suffered in the West Coast area, according to observers.

Hodeida is strategically important because its harbour is considered a lifeline for millions of Yemenis, as most of the commercial imports and relief supplies enter through it to the country.

Al Houthis have been in control of Hodeida since their late 2014 coup against the legitimate government of Yemen’s President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The Coalition accuses Al Houthis of taking advantage of their control of Hodeida port to obtain weapons from their Iranian patrons as well as confiscate aid intended for Yemenis in order to sustain their war efforts.

In 2015, the Saudi–led alliance started a military campaign in Yemen after Al Houthis advanced on the southern city of Aden, the temporary seat of the internationally recognised government, after the militants overran the capital Sana’a months earlier.

Source: Gulf news


The war on ocean piracy just got some fresh help from space

A surveillance system that can track ships and boats all over the world in real time and can be accessed from an iPhone has gone online.

Italian firm Leonardo launched its SEonSE (Smart Eyes on the Seas) platform Tuesday at the Farnborough International Airshow in the U.K.

The defense company claims the new platform makes it possible to view the exact position of a vessel at any moment.

Piracy on the high seas costs shippers and insurers hundreds of millions of dollars each year and is particularly prevalent around Southeast Asia and West Africa.

The new platform has been touted as a big step as it can spot if a ship has stopped or deviated from its mapped course.

“Within seconds, people will be able to note unusual activity from a ship,” said Luigi Pasquali, Leonardo’s coordinator of space activities.

Aside from security threats, Pasquali said the technology would aid in the fight against illegal fishing, help marine law enforcement and provide better market analysis for firms that regularly use shipping lanes.

“A huge amount of data is automatically processed in real-time for the protection of people and the maritime environment,” Pasquali added in a statement.

The raw data is collated from several satellites, some of which transmit a radar system providing the exact position of vessels. Others provide imagery, meaning the system will be able to track vessels that choose not to comply with identification requirements at sea.

SEonSE also factors in the Automatic Identification System (AIS) of small transponders fitted to shipping vessels worldwide. These continuously broadcast each vessel’s position and Leonardo said there are 7 million AIS signals sent every day.

Information from the world registry of ships, as well as weather and oceanographic information, are also crunched by Leonardo’s big data platform. The information is stored in the cloud, allowing tailored information to be continuously accessed by computers, tablets or phones.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News


Piracy danger continues in Gulf of Guinea, IMB says

The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) published its second quarterly report. The report says that 107 incidents were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) 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.

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