Kidnappers identified

Police believed they have identified the group involved in the kidnapping of three fishermen at Pegasus Reef waters, off Kinabatangan early this month.

Sabah Deputy Police Commissioner Datuk Zaini Jass however decline to comment further amid police investigation and the safety of the hostages.

“Our main priority is the safety of the hostages, so we cant reveal much information,” he said.

Zaini was asked to comment on the latest development on the abduction of Heri Ardiansyah, 19, Jari Abdullah, 34, and Hariadin, 45, who were taken hostages by either kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) group or Abu Sayyaf on December 5 .

Marine Operation Force (MOF) found the fishermen’s abandon fishing vessel in the waters at Pegasus Reef, off Kinabatangan following an earlier attempt by four armed masked men to rob and kidnapped 13 tugboat crewmen of the Magtrans II tugboat that was on route to Papua New Guinea from Bintulu, Sarawak to collect timber

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah had revealed that one of the victim’s wife had received a telephone call from her husband about a week after the disappearance of the three fishermen.

Police were trying to pinpoint the location where the victims were taken but believed them to be somewhere in the Philippines.

Source: Maritime Security Review


Deterring piracy

Over 20,000 merchant ships, including ten percent of global oil trade, transit the Gulf of Aden annually. Most of the major maritime nations rely on the free flow of commerce across the high seas, and protecting those flows is the strategic mission naval forces. As long as ships go to sea there will be piracy.

The Gulf of Aden is three times the size of the Gulf of Mexico and requires enormous resources to patrol. To manage the problem, nations must work together to develop the right strategy and provide the resources to confront pirates directly as well as confront the sources of piracy in Somalia and adjoining stretches on the sea.

The spike in pirates’ attacks can be attributed to the widespread drought and famine gripping these regions. In addition, as in years past, there has been increased frustration with commercial fishing vessels trawling well within the territorial waters of Somalia without regard for international laws.

Joint Efforts to Combat Piracy

The ITS Carlos Margottini, alongside the Spanish Warship ESPS Meteoro, is tackling piracy and armed robbery off the Somalian coast. European Union naval forces are also working with other organisations to strengthen maritime security and protect vulnerable shipping in the Horn of Africa and in the Western Indian Ocean.

Operation Three Arrows, a counterpiracy exercise that brought together warships and patrol aircraft from the United States and six other nations, patrolled the Gulf of Aden with naval drills. The U.S.-led Combined Maritime Forces, based in Bahrain, combined with the European Union Naval Force coordinated the event recently.

Warships from Japan, Spain and Italy and maritime aircraft from Germany, Spain, Japan and the United Kingdom practice interacting with fishing vessels and dhows in the region. The small Djiboutian navy also assists by informing local vessels of the warships in the region and collecting information on suspicious activity.

As one of three commands that fall under the U.S.-led combined force, CTF 151 patrols parts of the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and the eastern coast of Somalia performing counter piracy operations and engaging with regional partners to protect shipping lanes.

The forces hand out water and first-aid kits to the fishermen. Such engagements are designed to build communication with the community and help the forces gain valuable knowledge about local maritime activity (and) identify suspicious activity early.

Piracy under Check

Piracy in the Gulf of Aden has significantly declined since the launch of the EU’s Operation Atalanta and the formation of CTF 151 in 2009.

Atalanta operates in an area covering the southern Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and a large part of the Indian Ocean, including the Seychelles, Mauritius and Comoros. The area of operations also includes the Somali coastal territory, as well as its territorial and internal waters. EU warships also conduct patrols in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

There were more than 45 attacks by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden and surrounding waters in 2011. So far this year, only one attack was reported off the coast of Somalia. In February, a Singapore-flagged tanker was fired upon by three skiffs about 160 nautical miles off the Somali coast. After the onboard security team fired back, the pirates retreated. “We work 24/7/365 in our baseline counter piracy role,” said Lt. Col. Dave Fielder, EU Naval Force spokesman.

Fielder said the focus on the Somalian coast complements work done by CTF 151 partners. “We have been doing this together for many years and we are comfortable partners. Our recent work together is part of the ongoing commitment to the region to address piracy and wider maritime security issues.”

The Way Ahead

The international community made great strides in reducing Somali piracy during the past ten years, and the joint Naval forces have played a key role in that effort.

A successful long-term strategy to eliminate piracy will require a two-pronged approach: an international naval force must protect maritime shipping and interdict pirates, while diplomatic, security, and economic efforts to eliminate the root causes of piracy within vulnerable patches on the high seas.

Source: Maritime Security Review


Enrica Lexie case continues

International court to hear case of Italian marines accused of killing Indian fishermen.

An international tribunal will hear in July next year the case of two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen in India, the court based in The Hague said on Wednesday.

The case of Salvatore Girone and fellow marine Massimiliano Latorre has poisoned relations between and Rome and New Delhi since it happened in 2012. The Italian pair are accused of shooting the fishermen while protecting an Italian oil tanker as part of an anti-piracy mission off India’s southern Kerala coast.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said it will hold a public hearing from July 8th to July 20th next year, on who has jurisdiction in the case. “The forthcoming hearing will address the jurisdiction of the Arbitral Tribunal as well as the merits of Italy’s claims and India’s counter-claims,” the court said in a statement.

Italy initiated international proceedings in 2015, referring the row to the Netherlands-based tribunal and asking it to rule on where the men should be tried.

Both Italians were initially held in India, but Latorre was allowed to return to Italy in 2014 after suffering a stroke. Girone was permitted to do the same in 2016 after living in Italy’s embassy in Delhi for four years.

New Delhi insists both Italians should return to India for a final judgment by an Indian court.

The detention of the marines, the murder charges and the long wait for the case to be resolved are sore subjects in Italy. Italy insists the oil tanker, the MV Enrica Lexie, was in international waters as part of an anti-piracy mission at the time of the incident.

India argues the case is not a maritime dispute but “a double murder at sea”, in which one fisherman was shot in the head and the other in the stomach.

In December 2014 Rome threatened to withdraw its ambassador from India after a court rejected Latorre’s original request for medical leave.

Source: Maritime Security Review



Piracy continues decline, but Gulf of Guinea raises concerns

Piracy continues decline, but Gulf of Guinea raises concerns
The shipping industry and world governments helped quell piracy in East Africa, but on the other side of the continent things are quite a bit different

Piracy’s long, five-year decline has been impressive.

Last year, the number of incidents — including boardings, hijackings, attempted attacks or ships fired upon — has dropped to its lowest level since 1995, according to the International Maritime Bureau. For six months in the middle of the year, the agency did not record a single hijacking, the first time that has happened since 1994.

But no matter how remarkable the numbers are, they can still mislead.

“We have to be very cognizant of the fact that in the Gulf of Guinea there is a significant amount of underreporting that is taking place,” said Cyrus Mody, the IMB’s assistant director. “This has been going on for years.”

The decline, according to Mody and RAND Europe’s Giacomo Perso Paoli, has primarily been seen in the waters off Somalia, where pirates routinely made international headlines.

Instead, 2017 saw just nine incidents the IMB attributed to Somali pirates. The two credit a robust across-the-board response for the drop, including on-ship security, vigilance from mariners, a military presence in the region and efforts to improve conditions on land.

Overall, 2017 saw just 180 incidents last year, down from 191 in 2016 and 264 in 2013.

Those numbers would have been higher if not for underreporting in West Africa. There, Mody said, the IMB is only recording an estimated 40% of all pirate activity.

The agency’s data shows there were 33 incidents in the waters off Nigeria — the West African country with the most pirate activity — and 41 through the first three quarters of 2018.

More realistic numbers, per Mody’s estimate, would be 55 incidents last year and roughly 68 this year.

“The Gulf of Guinea is in fact a huge area of concern for seafarers and the shipping industry,” Mody said.

Mody stressed proper reporting is key to diagnosing and tackling the problem.

Persi Paoli, a veteran of the Italian Navy, said the remedies in the two regions would be different as the models of piracy are much different.

In the Gulf of Guinea, pirates are hijacking ships to steal cargo, not hold crews or ships for ransom.

“For the business model in West Africa to work, you also need pirates to have wide and deep connections with organized crime, with corruption,” said Paoli, who serves as the associated director of RAND Europe’s science and security group.

“When you have hundreds of thousands (of barrels) of crude oil or whatever cargo to sell or distribute, you need networks that … are quite sophisticated.”

In Somalia, the United Nations could get involved, Paoli said, as Somalia did not have a functioning government. That is not the case in West Africa.

What is needed there is a “tailored approach,” he said. And the will.

“Whether there are enough incentives for governments in West Africa to address the issue seriously, whether it’s causing enough pain to them — economic pain particularly — I don’t know,” Paoli said.

Source: Trade Winds


Southeast Asia – Piracy Events Over the Past Week

Pirate and maritime crime activity in Southeast Asia waters is at a low level. No maritime crime events were reported this past week. Late reporting was received on two boarding events from the previous week.

A. Details

Vessels Hijacked: No incidents to report.

Kidnapping: No incidents to report.

Vessels Boarded:

1. VIETNAM: On 10 December, during routine security rounds, a duty crew onboard an anchored bulk carrier noticed robbers armed with knives and bamboo stick on the forward deck. The ship was anchored near position 20:55N – 107:17E, Campha Anchorage. Duty officer was notified, alarm was raised and crew was mustered. Seeing the crew’s alertness, the robbers escaped in a wooden boat. Upon investigation, ship’s stores were reported stolen. Local agents and authorities informed. (IMB)

2. INDONESIA: On 10 December, a duty watchman onboard a container vessel anchored near position 06:00S – 106:54E, Tanjung Priok Anchorage Area ‘ECHO,’ saw three robbers on the aft deck. Duty officer notified. Alarm was raised, announcement on PA system made and all crew mustered on the bridge. Master contacted the pilot station and agents. Authorities boarded the vessel to render assistance and investigate. (IMB)

Vessels Fired Upon/Attempted Boarding/Attack: No incidents to report.

Other Activity: No incidents to report

B.  Incident Disposition

Figure 4. Southeast Asia Piracy and Maritime Crime Activity, 13 – 19 December 2018


C.  Tabulated Data for Southeast Asia Activity

Table 3 is a summary of piracy events that have occurred this week, this month, and current/prior years. This table includes incidents not described in this product line.



Abducted Boxship Crewmembers Released by Nigerian Pirates

Eight Polish crewmembers from the container ship Pomerania Sky have been released by their captors, two months after they were kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria.

Poland’s foreign ministry thanked the shipowner and its partners for “their professional handling of this difficult matter.” It also expressed gratitude to the Nigerian government.

“From the very beginning, the matter was dealt with by the interministerial team headed by the deputy minister of foreign affairs, and we are glad that the release took place before Christmas,” said the ministry in a statement. “We would like to remind you that it was the fifth kidnapping of Poles in the Gulf of Guinea since 2013. We appeal to Polish seafarers to check that the shipowner has adequate insurance before starting work on a ship in a dangerous region of the world.”

On October 27, pirates abducted 11 crewmembers from the container ship Pomerania Sky as she was headed for the port of Onne, Nigeria. Those abducted included eight from Poland, two Filipinos and one Ukrainian national. Nine crew members remained on board the vessel and brought her safely into port.

Pirate attacks are common in the Gulf of Guinea, and the area accounted for about one third of all piracy incidents in the first nine months of 2018, according to the IMB ICC. Just days after the attack on the Pomerania Sky, nine pirates in a speedboat approached an unnamed LNG carrier about 30 nm off Bonny, Nigeria, and opened fire. The master put on more speed and evaded the attackers, who eventually broke off and left the scene.

Source: The Maritime Executive


Yemen ceasefire delay

An “immediate ceasefire” in Yemen’s war will actually come into effect on 18 December, officials say, after the initial deal was followed by violence.

The warring sides agreed to end fighting in the vital port city of Hudaydah last Thursday.

A day later, air strikes and fierce clashes were reported between pro-government forces and Houthi rebels.

UN and Yemeni officials say the ceasefire delay is needed so that orders can be passed to ground troops.

The UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, has urged both sides to respect the obligations and spirit of the agreement, which followed UN-brokered talks in Sweden.

Hudaydah, 140km (90 miles) west of the capital Sanaa, was Yemen’s fourth-largest city and a major economic hub before rebels took control of it in late 2014.

As a port, it is also a lifeline for just under two-thirds of Yemen’s population, who rely almost entirely on imports for food, fuel and medicine.

It is one of the areas controlled by the rebels, but since June has been under assault by a Saudi-led coalition backing the pro-government troops.

More than 22 million Yemenis need some form of aid, and eight million do not know how they will obtain their next meal.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that severe food shortages could deteriorate further if the truce in Hudaydah fails.

At least 10,000 people have already died in the four-year conflict, the World Health Organization says.

Source: Maritime Security Review


Somalia piracy: How foreign powers are tackling it

Foreign navies have played a key role in curbing piracy off Somalia’s coast, writes the BBC’s Anne Soy.

On a beach in Hordeia on the northern coast of Somalia, I asked a former pirate what attracted him to piracy in the first place.

The man, who wanted to remain anonymous, told me he was originally a fisherman and that was his main source of income but things changed when an illegal trawler destroyed his net.

“I had a boat and a net on it, then a trawler cut our fishing nets and pulled them away. I was left with an empty boat,” he recalled.

He and a fellow fisherman tried to shout and call the trawler crew, but it was in vain. It angered them.

“They passed over our nets and pulled them away. Our fishing equipment was destroyed.”

The former pirate’s story was not unusual.

In the second half of the last decade what began as a defensive act against big trawlers, quickly morphed into a lucrative illegal business that raised global concern.

As he and other fishermen lost their trade, they turned to piracy, hijacking ships and passengers for ransom.

Dramatic cliff
It also drew in former militiamen who fought with warlords during Somalia’s long civil war.

I wanted to know more about his days as a pirate but he became unsettled and ended the interview abruptly.

What appeared to make him uneasy was a Spanish Special Forces soldier who had wandered over.

Security around the beach was tight as a helicopter hovered in the sky. The helicopter was part of the European Union Naval Force (EUNavfor).

It gave a clue as to what has changed in recent years that has dramatically reduced the threat from piracy.

A decade ago, pirates operated freely and there were plenty of hideouts for them along the coastline, like Eyl, a small, scenic port town in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

As I approached Eyl, I saw the town by the beach right in front of a high, dramatic golden-brown cliff. The cliff seemingly shelters the town from wind and dust blowing from the mainland.

Dangerous sea passage
Locals told me about the time years ago when pirates flooded the market with money, causing the cost of living to rise sharply.

Armed, they also terrorised the local community, but they rarely killed anyone.

They also held some of the sailors they captured hostage as they demanded huge ransoms, sometimes of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The possibility of huge riches seemed to have been the main driver of piracy off the Somali coast.

But it was the lack of an effective central government since the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in 1991, and the subsequent disbandment of the Somali navy, that enabled it to happen.

Somali territorial waters saw a rise in smuggling, illegal fishing by foreign trawlers, illegal dumping and later piracy.

The route through the Indian Ocean past the Somali coast became known as one of the most dangerous sea passages in the world.

But 10 years ago, the European Union, Nato and others began to deploy naval forces to the region shortly after the UN Security Council allowed warships to enter Somali territorial waters.

Pirate attacks have now all but stopped, after reaching a peak in 2011.

I wanted to see how this change had come about and spent seven days on the ESPS Castilla, a Spanish naval ship that is part of EUNavfor.

On the second day onboard, breakfast was cut short and we were guided to the ship’s bridge. A boat had been spotted in the distance.

“We don’t think it’s anything suspicious but we carry out ‘friendly approaches’ as part of patrolling the sea,” explained an officer.

After a quick briefing, five or so marines geared up and descended from the warship onto a waiting boat. We followed on a second boat, keeping our distance.

Rich fish stocks
As soon as the Spanish boat had pulled alongside the fishermen, a quick search was conducted.

“The vessel is from Yemen but the crew are mostly from Somalia,” the officer on our boat explained after listening to the radio communication.

Finally, we were allowed to board the fishing boat.

The fishermen, about eight of them, were by then relaxed and making jokes as they drank water from bottles given to them by the special forces.

“There’s a good market for fish in Yemen that’s why we sell our catch there,” explained Osman Ali.

He said he used to fish off the coast of Tanzania, but was attracted further north because of the rich fish stocks in Somali waters.

“But I have not seen pirates,” he said nervously and quickly changed the subject.

All the fishermen operating here know each other and if there is a security problem they quickly alert their colleagues and move to safer waters, he added.

“Sometimes we meet bad people who steal our tools and fish, but the presence of the warship has made things better,” Mr Ali said.

Boat blown up
On another day, news came through that a freight ship came under attack 300 nautical miles east of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

A small boat, or skiff, got within 50m (164ft) of the ship and fired. But the onboard security returned fire, scaring off the small boat.

The Castilla was too far away to intervene, but the next day the skiff was traced to a bay that is a known pirate base, just off the Somali coast.

Spanish forces towed the skiff into sea and later blew it up.

It was only the second incident reported in 2018. Both attacks were unsuccessful.

As for the town of Eyl, a revolt had forced the pirates out.

Back to fishing
Eyl Police Commissioner Mohammed Dahir Yusuf exuded confidence about the town’s ability to deal with any resurgence.

“Any illegal boats are dealt with by the marine forces who catch them and bring them here, where they are dealt with.”

He was referring to the Puntland Maritime Police Force, around 800 men strong, and the largest such unit in the country.

But its abilities are limited.

“We don’t have enough boats to take to sea,” Mr Yusuf said.

He added that the force only had two small boats, hardly enough to adequately patrol the vast sea and apprehend suspects.

This is not the only challenge.

Marco Hekkens, an adviser on maritime security to the EU’s civilian mission in Somalia, said illegal fishing is continuing.

EUNavfor can report suspicious fishing vessels to the authorities, but given Somalia’s limited capacity to deal with them, hardly anything is done.

Rear Admiral Alfonso Perez de Nanclares is also cautious despite the success in quelling piracy.

“When the mission started we had about 40 hijacked ships, and more than 700 hostages,” he told me.

“Piracy has been contained but I really think the intention of going back to this business is still there. I think by working together [with the authorities] we’ll be able to suppress and eradicate it.”

Back in Hordeia, before the reformed pirate got cold feet, he told me that he had gone back to fishing.

But there continues to be a danger that the piracy cycle could be repeated.



IMO’s training for managing insecurity in west Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden

IMO provides training to countries in the west Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden on managing insecurity in the maritime domain in a regional workshop at the Djibouti Regional Training Centre during 9-13 December.

Namely, the countries taking part in the training face major piracy problems in the maritime industry. Therefore, the participants are being educated on regional and national measures that need to be taken to adequately acknowledge, influence, prevent, protect and respond to challenges and dangers in the maritime domain.


A highlight of these national measures is working towards a ‘whole-of-government’ approach, by sharing the procedures on how multi-agency and multi-disciplinary efforts can better implement and enforce the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) and related Jeddah Amendment, the international treaties instrumental in repressing piracy and armed robbery against ships in the region.

Finally, participants include officers from coast guards, marine police, navy and maritime administrations, serving at sea or ashore, who have operational responsibility for maritime law enforcement and the countries taking part in the training are Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Tanzania, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, the Sudan and Yemen.



Nigeria: Navy winning fight against sea pirates, says Navy Chief

The Nigerian Navy says that its improved presence at sea has reduced incidences of sea piracy which hitherto was prevalent on the nation’s territorial waters. Ibok-Ete Ibas, stated this on Saturday during the inauguration of a naval medical centre and gulf course at the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder in Port Harcourt.

Ibas attributed the declining occurrences of activities of sea pirates to the adoption of the Maritime Domain Awareness Infrastructure strategy launched few years ago. He said: “We have been able to successfully reduce the incidences of sea piracy as well as contained the menace of maritime criminals we have at sea.

“We have robust infrastructure – maritime domain awareness infrastructure – which gives us an eye over the seas. “Hitherto, these criminal elements carried out their actions, and we didn’t see them; but now, we see them and we are able to respond appropriately. “This also goes to affirm that with necessary enablement that we will be able to carry out our legitimate functions – which is what the navy has done,” he said. Ibas further attributed the success to the addition of the newly acquired warships and assault gunboats to the Nigerian navy fleet in the last one year.

The naval chief said the improved security at sea had resulted in steady rise in production of crude oil as well as economy of the nation. Navy promotes 87 senior officers He said that in spite of challenges encountered in 2018, the navy made remarkable progress in both operational duties and welfare of personnel. “So, I am here at NNS Pathfinder as part of routine function to appraise the operational readiness of the Nigerian Navy. I am happy with our performance so far. “The various commands that I visited have been able to judiciously utilise the resources that have been made available to them. “So, it is on that note that I have commissioned a medical centre in addition to other welfare facilities to further encourage the officers and men and their families,” he said.


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