Stena Bulk discusses with Iranian Foreign Minister regarding Stena Impero release

As Stena Impero is still under Iranian detention for the 34th day, Stena Bulk’s president and CEO, Erik Hanell discussed in Stockholm on August 21, with the Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. During the talks, Mr. Hanell gave emphasis on the importance of the release of the 23 crew members.

Specifically, according to Stena Bulk’s president and CEO, the two men had a ‘constructive dialogue’, while they shared information around the case.

Erik Hanell highlighted that it is important for the 23 crew members who are on board the ship to be released. The crew is on board for about five weeks, while their ‘families were getting extremely concerned about their loved ones’.

In addition, Mr. Hanell noted that Stena Impero is important to be released as well.

In the meantime, Stena Bulk has written to all the leaders of the countries who have crew on board Stena Impero, asking for support to achieve their release.

Before this development, earlier in the month, the owner of the ship had characterized Iran’s detention of Stena Impero as “unacceptable and unjustifiable”.

What is more, Stena Bulk has earlier noted there were no indications that the ship breached any rules.

The vessel’s 23 seafarers consist of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationality



Four Armed Robberies Reported in Asia

Four incidents of armed robbery against ship were reported to the ReCAAP ISC during August 13-19. The incidents occurred in Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia.

The container ship Kota Waris was attacked at the Phuoc Long Mooring Buoy No. 3, Vietnam, on August 12. While at anchor, two pirates in black masks boarded the ship through the port quarter deck from a wooden boat. They were trying to open the entrance door of the steering gear room. The duty A/B discovered them when he was conducting a deck safety and security round. He reported the incident to the duty officer and raised the general alarm. The perpetrators jumped into water and escaped in a wooden boat.

The tug Kien San 1 and barge Kien San 8 were attacked approximately 3.8 nautical miles southeast of Tanjung Piai, Johor, Malaysia in the westbound lane of the TSS in the Singapore Strait on August 15. While underway, three pirates from two small boats boarded the barge and stole some scrap metal. The master raised the alarm and reported the incident to the Singapore Vessel Traffic Information System via VHF. The crew was not injured.

The bulk carrier Strategic Unity was attacked at Belawan Anchorage, Indonesia, on July 31. While at anchor, two pirates boarded the ship from the port side anchor chain by removing the hawse pipe. The crew discovered them hiding in the forecastle and raised the alarm. Upon hearing the alarm, the perpetrators escaped in a small speed boat. Nothing was stolen from the ship. The crew secured back the hawse pipe cover plate with additional wire slings.

The tug Crystal Auriga and barge Crystal 128 were attached approximately 14 nautical miles northeast of Pulau Bintan, Indonesia, in the South China Sea on August 9. While anchored off Pulau Bintan, the barge was boarded by an unknown number of perpetrators who stole some mattress protectors from a container. The master discovered that the items on board the barge were missing upon arrival at Crystal Offshore Yard, Singapore, the next day.

Three piracy incidents were reported in Asia between August 6 and 12. Six incidents were reported in Asia in July.

As the risk of the abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah is high as demonstrated by the abduction of nine crew on June 18, the ReCAAP ISC urges ship masters and crew to exercise extra vigilance while transiting the area.

Source: The Maritime Executive


Douala Anchorage, Cameroon – Nine crew members missing

15.08.2019   0118 UTC

03:52.40N – 009:31.12E

Douala Anchorage, Cameroon.
Armed persons boarded a bulk carrier, stole crew and ship property and escaped. The Cameroon navy dispatched a patrol boat. When the crew emerged from hiding, it was reported that nine crew members were missing. Investigations are on-going.

Source: ICC


Iran widens threat to other shipping lanes

President Hassan Rouhani says international waterways cannot be secure if US halts country’s oil exports.

Iran has broadened its threats against shipping in a warning from president Hassan Rouhani.

He said international waterways cannot be secure if Iran’s oil exports are halted by US sanctions, Arab News and Reuters reported.

Stena boss meets with Iranian foreign minister over tanker seizure

The Iranian government has long used the threat of closure of the Strait of Hormuz, as well as recent tanker detentions there, as leverage in its cold war with the US.

“World powers know that in the case that oil is completely sanctioned and Iran’s oil exports are brought down to zero, international waterways can’t have the same security as before,” Rouhani said.

“So unilateral pressure against Iran can’t be to their advantage and won’t guarantee their security in the region and the world.”

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif added that the country might act “unpredictably” in response to “unpredictable” US policies under president Donald Trump.

“Mutual unpredictability will lead to chaos,” he said.

Source: TradeWinds


Pirates kidnap 8 crew members in raid on German ship off Cameroon

Pirates have kidnapped eight crew members of a German-owned ship in a raid on the vessel off the coast of Cameroon, the Hamburg-based company that owns the ship said on Friday.

MC-Schiffahrt said in a statement on its website that it had assembled an emergency team and was cooperating with local authorities in the West African country to deal with the incident, which happened late on Wednesday.

It said the ship, the MarMalaita, had 12 crew members on board at the time of the abduction.



Guidance on Abduction of Crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and Waters off Eastern Sabah

The ReCAAP ISC has produced the “Guidance on Abduction of Crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and Waters off Eastern Sabah”. Between 2016 and 2019, a total of 29 incidents of abduction of crew (coPmprising 18 actual incidents and 11 attempted incidents) were reported to ReCAAP ISC. In the 18 actual incidents, 75 crew were abducted in total. Among them, 65 crew were released or rescued, and 10 crew were killed or died. Currently, there is no crew in captivity.

In light of the existing threat of abduction of crew in the area as demonstrated by the latest incident on 18 June 2019, ReCAAP ISC made this Guidance to assist the shipping industry and ships to enhance their situation awareness and avoid such incidents. This Guidance consists of advisory on the measures to be taken by the ships transiting the area, including contact details and the Notice to Mariners (NOTAM) issued by the Philippines and Malaysia. It also shares the analysis of incidents based on the information collected from past incidents.

The Guidance is produced by the ReCAAP ISC in collaboration with the Philippine Coast Guard (ReCAAP Focal Point of the Philippines) and it is supported by the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA) and Singapore Shipping Association (SSA).

This Guidance complements the general guidance contained in the “Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and armed Robbery against Ships in Asia” produced by the ReCAAP ISC.

Guidance on Abduction of Crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and Waters off Eastern Sabah [PDF]

Source: HELLENIC SHIPPING NEWS, ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC)



The US Maritime Administration (MARAD) has issued a new advisory for vessels operating in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.

It says vessels should keep their AIS (automatic identification systems) transmitting at all times and be ready to answer VHF calls from coalition naval forces.

In goes on, in a section specifically for US-flagged vessels, to say ships should register simultaneously with the UK Maritime Trade Office (UKMTO) and US Fifth Fleet Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) Watch before they enter the area.

They should send both agencies, via a single email, details of when they will enter and when they will leave the Strait of Hormuz Traffic Separation Scheme and give an outline of their navigation plans for operating in the Strait and in the Persian Gulf.

The advisory is current from August 8.

Tension has been growing between Iran and the West with both sides accusing each other of aggressive behaviour.

The United States blames Iran for a series of attacks against commercial vessels in the Strait of Hormuz and in the wider Persian Gulf.

Iran denies involvement in some of the incidents and, in cases were vessels have been seized or detained, claims it has been acting lawfully.

The latest MARAD advisory talks of a serious threat to commercial vessels from heightened military activity.

It says there have been a least two cases of vessels reporting GPS interference. It claims there have also been reports of spoofed bridge-to-bridge communications from unknown entities falsely claiming to be US or coalition warships.

This advisory warns against vessels shutting off their AIS saying its risks complicating response efforts should they be involved in an incident.

If Iranian forces hail a US-flagged ship, or board or attempt to board, the advisory says the US Fifth Fleet Battle Watch should be informed immediately.

Ships should take extreme care not to enter sensitive Iranian waters.

Ships should maintain a high state of awareness and be alert to local and regional tensions that could put them at risk.

Contact details for US Fifth Fleet Battle Watch: + 973-1785-3879; email: CUSNC.BWC@ME.NAVY.MIL.

Source: Gray Page


Pakistan passes command of CTF 150 to the United Kingdom after a short ceremony in Bahrain

On 8th August, a UK led joint staff of Royal Navy and French Marine Nationale assumed command of the maritime security organisation Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 from the Pakistan Navy.

20190808_PAK-UK CoC
Pakistan Navy hand over command of CTF 150 to the Royal Navy and French Marine Nationale.

Through maritime security operations, regional engagements and capacity building activities, CTF 150 works to deter and deny terrorist organisations any benefits from employing the high seas for smuggling illegal narcotics, which represents a common threat to the security and prosperity of the region. Member countries that contributed to CTF 150 success during the Pakistan-led rotation included Australia, Canada, France, Pakistan, the UK and the US, who all worked together in direct support in pursuit of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) goals.

CMF is a multinational naval partnership which works with regional partners to ensure maritime security and stability. This partnership consists of three task forces which deal with a range of threats from non-state actors such as piracy and the smuggling of illicit materials.

During the ceremony at the CMF headquarters in Bahrain, command of CTF 150 was passed from Commodore Alveer Ahmed Noor of the Pakistan Navy to Commodore Edward Ahlgren, OBE, Royal Navy. The event was presided over by Commander CMF Vice Admiral Jim Malloy of the United States Navy.

20190808_PAK-UK VA Malloy COC
Vice Admiral Malloy with Commodore Noor, outging CCTF 150 and Commodore Ahlgren, incoming CCTF 150.

In his speech, Commodore Noor said: “Pakistan’s commitment to the UN resolutions is well established. The eleventh Command of CTF 150 by Pakistan Navy certainly demonstrates our continued commitments in support of CMF efforts for ensuring maritime security in the region. During our Command tenure, CTF 150 effectively contributed to CMF mission by seizing 25 175kg of narcotics leading to denial of approximately USD $19.5M to terrorist organisations. Furthermore, CTF 150 units remained vigilant and poised to respond to any emergency call for assistance to the maritime community.”

Over the last 4 months, units under CTF 150’s command have carried out 15 successful boarding operations despite the unfavorable weather during the month of May, June and July.  CTF 150 has been committed to building maritime counter-terrorism capability in regional navies and to promoting regional security and stability.

Vice Admiral Malloy praised the Pakistan Navy on their successful command of CTF 150 by saying: “The professionalism of the Pakistan led CTF 150 has been exemplary. This is the eleventh time CTF 150 has been commanded by Pakistan and is unsurpassed by any other nation. The Pakistan Navy has shown that hard work and commitment to the maritime security of the region can be achieved in an all too changing world. I would like to personally thank Commodore Alveer Ahmed Noor for his leadership and guidance and look forward to serving with you again in the future”

Commodore Ahlgren is deeply honoured to be taking over responsibility for CTF 150 and maritime security in this region and recognises the challenges.

He said: “Delivering maritime security is becoming increasingly complicated. Threats are evolving rapidly, and the adversary is not always evident. In a world where constant change is the only certainty, security in the maritime domain cannot be achieved by one organisation with limited assets – it’s a team effort from all of us.  We, as the incoming CTF 150 team, look forward to being part of this great venture and making new friends along the way.”

20190808_PAK - UK 150 CoC-3
Dignatories from Bahrain, Pakistan and the United Kingdom cut the ceremonial cake after the event.

This is the tenth time the UK has commanded CTF 150, with the last occasion being May to August 2018, when, similarly to this command, it was a joint Royal Navy – French Marine National venture. France also has a long and successful track record in the lead of CTF 150, commanding the task force alone nine times since 2003.

Commodore Ahlgren explained the complexity of the region:

“Combined Task Force 150’s Area of Operation includes some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and spans over 3.2 million square miles. This area is a vital artery of world trade from the Far East to Europe and the United States and covers three of the world’s strategic ‘choke points’. Within the seas of the region all manner of activity is undertaken: be it piracy, drug smuggling, arms running, people trafficking, migration or legitimate activity like trade, fishing or leisure.  In all of that, it is about finding the bad guy amongst a sea of people.”

Vice Admiral Malloy concluded; “Today we welcome Commodore Edward Ahlgren, who will lead CTF 150 as a combined UK, French team. Today marks the tenth time the United Kingdom has dedicated a leader and superb staff to command CTF 150 – a number surpassed only by Pakistan! I have full confidence that commodore Ahlgren will continue the legacy of great CTF 150 leaders that precede him. I am honored and grateful to serve with you and will work to ensure your success”.


Asian Piracy: Chief Engineer Assaulted

ReCAAP ISC reports that three piracy incidents were reported in Asia between August 6 and 12. One of the incidents occurred on board a chemical tanker while underway waiting for pilot at approximately five nautical miles north of Tanjung Priok, Jakarta, Indonesia. Six perpetrators armed with knives boarded the tanker and assaulted the Chief Engineer. The alarm was raised and the perpetrators escaped empty-handed.

The other two incidents involved tug boats towing barges while underway in the Singapore Strait. Both incidents occurred south of Tanjung Piai, Johor, Malaysia, and involved perpetrators who boarded the barges from small boats. They escaped after stealing some scrap metal from the barges.

Two incidents were reported during the previous week. One involved a tug boat in Indonesia and the other a general cargo ship in Vietnam. Both incidents occurred while the ships were at berth.

As the risk of the abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah is high as demonstrated by the abduction of nine crew on June 18, the ReCAAP ISC urges ship masters and crew to exercise extra vigilance while transiting the area. Earlier this year, the ReCAAP ISC produced a new publicationGuidance on Abduction of Crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and Waters off Eastern Sabah.

Source: The Maritime Executive


Initial Report: Vessel Hijacked Near Lome, Togo

On 12st August 19, at 0130 UTC an MV was hijacked in the vicinity of Lome, close to Ghanaian border. Investigations are ongoing and this report will be updated as further information becomes available. Vessels are advised to exercise extreme caution in this area.

Source: MDAT-GoG, Maritime Security Review

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