European forces patrolling Strait of Hormuz, Middle East Gulf

The group monitored the seizure of a tanker in April.

The eight-member European security mission to the Strait of Hormuz criss-crossed the waterway more than 20 times in March and April in its effort to ensure freedom of navigation in the region.

European-led Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz, or EMASOH, disclosed the figure this week and noted it monitored the detention of the 22,400-dwt tanker SC Taipei (built 2000) on the 14 April.

“For the coming months, EMASOH assets will continue to navigate the area, sail the [Middle East] Gulf and cross the Strait of Hormuz,” the group said.

“We will maintain our peaceful surveillance and monitor all events that occur in the area.”

The group, organised by France, based in Abu Dhabi and joined by Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal, was launched in the wake of last year’s tanker attacks allegedly carried out by Iran.

The Islamic republic also was said to have been the perpetrator of the SC Taipei’s seizure last month.

The tanker was said to have been boarded 20 nautical miles (37km) off the Iranian coast by armed men and taken into Iran’s territorial waters. It was held for several hours before being released.

As TradeWinds reported at the time, the SC Taipei was one of three dozen vessels connected to Aoxing Ship Management Shanghai, which was sanctioned by the US government in March over alleged dealings with Iran’s oil industry.

Aircraft surveillance

The EMASOH said one of its naval assets and an aircraft were used to assess and monitor the situation.

“Upon their arrival, action in progress was well monitored and assets remained in the vicinity until the SC Taipei was back, safe and secure, in international waters,” the group said.

The EMASOH is one of two multinational groups in the region, alongside the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), led by the US, with the UK, Australia, Albania, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Lithuania and the United Arab Emirates as members.

The European group said it was working in conjunction with the IMSC and the independent missions sent by Japan and South Korea.

Tensions in the region have been high since 2018 when the US withdrew from a multilateral deal reached in 2015. Then, Iran agreed to scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for the US, UK, Germany, France, China and Russia removing sanctions.

Source: TradeWinds


Eight crew members released after kidnapping from Maersk boxship

Bulgarian and Ukraine foreign ministers confirm release on Twitter.

Eight seafarers have been freed after being kidnapped from an AP Moller-Maersk-chartered containership off West Africa last month.

Bulgarian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva confirmed that the men had been released in a posting on Twitter.

She said that the captain of the vessel, a Bulgarian national, was now “free and safe in a European country” and that he was “expected to return home soon”.

Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba confirmed the release of the crew in a similar posting on his social media account.

“Good news. Another citizen of Ukraine, the crew member of Tommi Ritscher, captured in the Gulf of Guinea on April 19, is free,” he said.

“Ukraine’s embassy in the Federative Republic of Nigeria performed migration and customs procedures. Our sailor is in one of [the] EU countries. Soon, he will be repatriated to his native land.”

The 4,957-teu Tommi Ritscher (built 2014) was boarded by gunmen on 19 April while at anchor off Cotonou, Benin.

Eleven seafarers on board the Portuguese-flagged vessel took refuge in the citadel, but another eight were initially unaccounted for.

The boxship is owned by Woollerton Shipping and managed by Transeste Schiffahrt of Germany.

Over the weekend, the companies confirmed the eight were freed and were being repatriated.

“The freed seafarers have undergone medical checks and are in good spirits given their time in captivity,” they added.

“They have been in contact with their families and we ask that they are given privacy as they work to fully recover from their ordeal.”

The companies thanked the crew for their “courage and fortitude during this extremely difficult time”, as well as the families for their resilience as they waited and hoped.

They added: “Because of the ongoing scourge of piracy, no operational details will be provided about the release of the crew in respect to those seafarers who are still being held or may be abducted in future attacks.”

The kidnapped seafarers included Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Russian and Filipino nationals.


Nigeria naval officers attack pirates, rescue Chinese vessel

Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, yesterday disclosed that the Nigerian Navy intercepted a Chinese vessel, which was attacked by pirates, off the Coast of Cote D’ Ivoire.

Enenche, who revealed this in Abuja at a routine update on various operations of the Nigerian Armed Forces, said the pirates seized the vessel and directed it towards Nigerian waters.

He said the Navy officers through an opposed boarding of the vessel arrested 10 pirates, rescues 18 crew members comprising Chinese, Ghanaians and Ivorians, adding, “The Nigerian Navy was alerted of the pirate attack and immediately, the Nigerian Navy Ship NGURU was dispatched to intercept the vessel.

“On intercepting the vessel about 140 nautical miles south of Lagos Fairway Buoy, the pirates refused to comply with orders of the Nigerian Navy Ship, hence the officers had to conduct an opposed boarding of the vessel.”

Eneche also noted that the Nigerian Navy Ship Delta conducted anti-illegal bunkering/Crude Oil Theft (COT) operations around Ugbodede, Uwakeno, Opumami, Banga communities and around Escravos area in Warri South Council Area of Delta State.

“During the operations, the team located and dismantled illegal refining sites and a wooden boat with three coolers, 136 dugout pits, 201 surface metal storage tanks and 174 ovens loaded with about 14,434 barrels crude oil as well as 1,385,000 litres of locally refined diesel.

“The storage facilities were dismantled, but no arrest was made, as operators of the illegal refining sites fled on sighting the team. Meanwhile, the illegal refining sites have been earmarked for swamp buggy operation.”

He explained that on May 11, 2020, Forward Operating Base ESCRAVOS intercepted three large wooden boats loaded with 12.6 barrels of stolen crude oil and 43,000 litres of locally refined diesel around Madangho and Sara Creek in Warri South Council Area of Delta State.

“Also on May 12, 2020, the team uncovered seven refining units, 13 metal storage tanks and four dugout pits with about 440.3 barrels of stolen crude oil and 180,000 litres of diesel. The boats, items and products were impounded.

In the same vein, on May 11, 2020, Forward Operating Base IBAKA patrol team around Effiat Waterways intercepted an abandoned wooden boat laden with 310 x 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice smuggled from Cameroon.

“Similarly, on May 14, 2020, the Base Patrol Team intercepted an abandoned medium sized wooden boat laden with 67 drums of petrol around Enwang Creek. The seized bags of foreign rice, boat and drums of petrol were handed over to the Forward Operating Base IBAKA for custody,” he said.

Enenche added that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole destroyed logistics facilities, gun trucks and other structures, as well as recovered weapons from Boko Haram Terrorists/ISWAP fighters and senior commanders during air strikes and other operations. No fewer than 20 terrorists were killed and six AK-47 rifles, 520 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and 36 hand grenades were also recovered, among others.

Source: Nigerian Guardian, HELLENIC SHIPPING NEWS


ReCAAP ISC Issues Warning on Activity of Abu Sayyaf Group in waters off Sabah, Malaysia

ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre on 22 May issued the following Warning:

1. On 22 May, ReCAAP ISC has received information from the Philippine Coast Guard (ReCAAP Focal Point) that a group of approximately five ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) members armed with assorted firearms is planning to conduct kidnapping activities in undisclosed areas in Sabah, Malaysia. They are targeting wealthy businessmen or crew of fishing boats and other slow moving ships plying within the waters off Sabah, Malaysia. The group came from Sulu and was monitored to have landed at Omapoy Island, Sipangkot, Sitangkai, Tawi Tawi.

2. Ship masters and crew are strongly urged to exercise extra vigilance when transiting the waters off Eastern Sabah and in the Sulu-Celebes Seas.

3. Source: Philippine Coast Guard

4. This information is to provide maritime situational awareness for mariners operating in the area



Armed robbers boarded a barge under tow at Singapore Straits

Boarded //  Type of Vessel: Tug
Posn: 01:13.3N – 104:06.5E, Singapore Straits.
Off Nongsa Island Off Batam Island.
Six robbers armed with machetes boarded a barge under tow. Three duty watchmen onboard the barge were threatened by the robbers. One watchman was taken hostage while the other two watchmen managed to escape and raise the alarm. Seeing the alerted crew the robbers escaped with the watchmen’s stolen mobile phones. Authorities informed and they boarded the vessel for investigation.
Source: ICC

Armed pirates attacked and boarded a general cargo at Brass of Nigeria

Boarded // Type of Vessel: General Cargo
Posn : 02:14.5N – 005:03.7E: around 142 NM SW of Brass, Nigeria.
Seven heavily armed pirates attacked and boarded a general cargo ship underway. The crew retreated into the citadel and contacted the owners and IMB PRC. The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre immediately started liaising with the Nigerian Authorities and requested for assistance. Two Nigerian Naval vessels responded. By the time the naval vessels arrived near the ship, the pirates had disembarked. The crew emerged from the citadel and the Naval vessels remained alongside the ship until daylight to ensure safety and security.
Source: ICC

NIMASA tests new anti-piracy law on intercepted Chinese vessel

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, is set to test the new anti-piracy law with the intercepted Chinese fishing vessel Hailufeng 11 where about ten pirates who hijacked the vessel were arrested. The vessel had been licensed to fish in Côte d’Ivoire.

Vanguard Maritime Report gathered that the arrested persons are presently in Police custody in Apapa, Lagos. collaboration between the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA resulted in the interception of the vessel. Recall that President, Muhammadu Buhari had, last year, signed the Anti Piracy Bill into law which seeks to prosecute anyone caught in maritime crime.

The fishing trawler was taken by pirates on Thursday, May 14 in the Ivorian exclusive economic zone with 18 crew-members aboard, eight Chinese, seven Ivorians and three Ghanaians.

However, through rapid and engaged cooperation among a number of different African states and institutions, the vessel was tracked, and the Nigerian Navy was able to interdict it 140 nautical miles south of the Lagos Fairway Buoy at about 2210 local time on the night of May 16. The dramatic rescue was hugely successful, as all 18 hostages were recovered, 10 pirates were arrested, and the vessel was safely escorted into Lagos.

Speaking at the handing over of the criminals, Director-General of the NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, attributed the successful operation that led to the arrest of the pirates and rescue of the ship and its crew to collaboration between the NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy.

He said the Agency will continue to work with relevant security agencies in order to achieve its goal of eradicating piracy and all forms of illegality on the Nigerian waters.

Jamoh stated: “We have just witnessed the handover of pirates. This is as a result of the robust collaboration between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy. There has been a lot of synergy between NIMASA and the Navy with regard to the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act. I also want to seize the opportunity to thank Mr. President for signing the anti-piracy law, which would facilitate sufficient prosecution of these pirates.”

Jamoh, who was represented by the Agency’s Head of Legal Services, Mr. Victor Egejuru, assured that with the anti-piracy law, there was ample legal framework to prosecute pirates and other perpetrators of maritime offences in the country to bring the menace to the barest minimum.

He stressed the need for increased regional cooperation and information sharing, disclosing that the arrest of the pirates was due to a tip-off by the Beninoise Navy. Shettima warned criminal elements to stay away from Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, saying the Navy has the capability to deal with such threats.

He added that the current management of NIMASA will focus on three main areas, namely, Maritime Security, Safety, and Shipping Development, in pursuit of a robust maritime domain for the country.

The alert about the attack was raised and disseminated by local authorities. The coordination was provided by the Yaoundé Architecture for Maritime Security, without the involvement of foreign navies. Oil was not the focus of the attack; with Nigeria having new legislation and procedures which may help produce a successful legal as well as operational finish.

Even before the owners of the vessel and Chinese government officials began notifying local authorities in a variety of African states that they believed the Hailufeng 11 had been attacked, the Vessel Monitoring System in Côte d’Ivoire’s Fisheries Ministry had triggered an alert.



4 Incidents – South East Asia

  1. 16.05.2020: 1900 UTC: Posn: 01:38.5N – 102:57.0E, Around 6nm South of Batu Pahat Coast, Johor, Malaysia.
    Three robbers boarded a barge under tow, from a wooden fishing boat. Master immediately raised the alarm, made PA announcement, and informed the Malaysian Coast Guard. The crew directed searchlights towards the unidentified boat. As the Master manoeuvre the tug a second boat was seen approaching the barge. After a while the robbers were seen disembarking and moving away.
  2. 16.05.2020: 1830 UTC: Posn: Anyer Anchorage, Indonesia.
    Duty crew on routine rounds onboard an anchored tanker noticed a robber armed with a knife. OOW informed and alarm raised. While retreating into the accommodation, the duty crew spotted another robber emerging from the emergency steering room. Crew mustered, and the robbers were seen escaping in their boat. A search was carried out and engine spares were reported missing.
  3. 16.05.2020: 2100 UTC: Posn: 01:05.3N – 104:10.8E, Tanjung Uban Anchorage, Indonesia.
    Duty crew on routine rounds, onboard an anchored product tanker noticed three robbers armed with knives. The crew raised the alarm and retreated into the accommodation. Crew mustered. Seeing the alerted crew, the robbers escaped. Nothing was reported stolen. Vessel and crew safe.
  4. 15.05.2020: 2100 – 2230 UTC: Posn: Belawan Port, Indonesia.
    Unnoticed, robbers boarded a berthed product tanker and stole ship’s stores. The incident was noticed after the completion of cargo operations. Incident reported to Port Authority.

Source: ICC


Product Tanker Boarded – Merak Anchorage, Indonesia.

Boarded // Type of Vessel: Product Tanker
Location detail: Posn: 05:53.95S – 105:59.07E, Merak Anchorage, Indonesia.
Three robbers armed with long knives in a small boat boarded an anchored tanker using a ladder. They forced their way into the steering gear room after breaking the padlock. Alarm raised and crew mustered. Hearing the alarm, the robbers escaped in their boat. A search was carried out. It was reported that engine spares were stolen. Port Control was informed.
Source: ICC

Stolt-Nielsen guards blew up pirate skiff in gun battle

More details of Gulf of Aden attack revealed, while second incident downplayed.

A security team on a Stolt-Nielsen tanker blew up a pirate boat during a fierce gun battle off Yemen on Sunday.

The Private Maritime Security Company has revealed more details about the attack on the 32,800-dwt Stolt Apal (built 2016), while downplaying reports of a second suspicious approach in the area.

The PMSC said two blue Yemeni-type skiffs were involved.

The first was seen on the tanker’s starboard quarter, after which Stolt Apal altered course.

The skiff maintained its distance while the second boat approached the ship’s starboard quarter at 22 or 23 knots from 3 nautical miles (5.5km) away.

PMSC added that Both skiffs rendezvoused and conducted an “exchange”, and then one of the skiffs altered course and approached the tanker.

The other skiff remained in a standoff position.

The boat that approached carried a large number of blue drums but no boarding equipment was seen onboard.

Faces covered

“Those on board the skiff wore khaki clothing and covered their face,”PMSC said.

As the skiff approached, the tanker’s embarked armed security team fired two warning shots, the PMSC added.

The boat then opened fire on the tanker after the second warning shot with several bursts from an automatic weapon.

Only minor damage was reported to the bridge, while the skiff was “disabled.”

The security team was still receiving fire when the skiff exploded about 200 metres from the tanker, PMSC said.

It is unclear what happened to the pirates.

Shrapnel was later identified behind the Stolt vessel.

“Following this, the other skiff moved away on a north-easterly bearing. The tanker subsequently continued her course”, PMSC said.

Stolt-Nielsen has been contacted for further information.

The Norwegian shipowner had confirmed the incident on Sunday, about 75 nautical miles.

Six armed men were involved.

Oslo-listed Stolt-Nielsen said it had disabled one skiff.

“The bridge area sustained minor damage from bullets but there were no injuries, no pollution and no cargo impacted on Stolt Apal,” the chemical tanker player added.

Second incident dismissed

PMSC also said a second incident in the area this week is not viewed as hostile.

A Panama-flagged supramax bulk carrier was approached approximately 49 nautical miles south-west of Aden in Yemen.

A skiff approached the starboard side of the vessel at a speed of 20 knots, closing to 1.5 nautical miles.

Embarked security displayed weapons and the skiff withdrew. No weapons or boarding equipment were seen onboard.

In a third incident far to the south, a Saudi Arabia-flagged MR tanker was boarded in the Nacala outer anchorage in Mozambique during ship to ship transfer operations involving a Liberian-flagged aframax.

On sighting the suspect on the poop deck, the crew raised the alarm, prompting the individual to escape in a boat with two accomplices. Nothing was stolen.

Source: TradeWinds

Language »