MNG Maritime warns that shipowners may see going unprotected as a lesser risk as Covid-19 mutation spreads
|UK shipowner MNG Maritime has warned that vessel operators may be reluctant to take armed guards on board as the Delta variant of Covid-19 spreads on floating armouries.|
Shipping sources have told TradeWinds that outbreaks are now spreading on the vessels that house anti-piracy security personnel in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Oman.
One source said: “An outbreak like this will influence the presence of armed guards on board merchant shipping in the Indian ocean region.”
UK company MNG has two ships in the region: the MNG Pembroke in the Gulf of Oman and MNG Captain James Cook in the Red Sea.
Mark Gray, MNG’s founder and co-director, told TradeWinds there were a “good handful of cases” on both armouries.
Eight cases previously
The company had only experienced eight positive cases since the pandemic began in spring 2020. But then the Delta variant hit.
“About a week ago, we had a guy we were about to embark on a ship who tested positive,” Gray said.
The guard had been on the platform for three weeks and could only have caught it on board, he added.
The company immediately tested the people he had shared a cabin with.
“And, funny old thing, everybody in the cabin was positive,” Gray said.
Isolation taking place
MNG is a UK-government approved Covid-19 test centre and is now testing everybody before they join the vessels, using its own PCR machines.
Infected personnel have been isolated and segregated.
“It is obviously affecting our operations. We have an isolated and segregated ship that we haven’t had before,” Gray added.
He said 98% of positive cases are asymptomatic and do not show up using thermal cameras fitted on board.
“We are operating okay. By this weekend, I will be able to say with some certainty we are only putting clean people on client ships,” the former UK Marine colonel said.
MNG’s clients are security companies who then place guards on commercial vessels.
These companies have to replace personnel if MNG informs them of a positive test.
“Those companies have got enough guards at the moment to substitute,” Gray said. “If I tell them four days before, they’ve got enough time to do something about it.”
But there is a potential problem if they don’t have an immediate substitute.
“I know the other platforms have got it [Covid-19] too. Our fear is that the clients’ ships will lose confidence in their ability to take clean guards from floating armouries and adjudge it a better risk to go unprotected, which I believe is a mistake,” Gray said.
Another armoury owner, Dubai’s Sinbad Navigation, told TradeWinds that it has no cases of coronavirus on its vessels.
“We have strict Covid-19 prevention protocols on board,” the company added.
* LSS-SAPU utilises Sinbad platforms only, which are covid free and operate as usual. Covid procedures are available upon request. The safety of our personnel will always be our No1 concern.
Master reports suspicious approach by a small craft with 10 POB in position 05°29N 0°44E approximately 60NM East of Accra, Ghana.
Vessel and crew are safe.
Reporting indicates that a fishing vessel was attacked at position 04°33N 002°23E approximately 104 nm South of Cotonou, Benin Republic.
The situation on the X-Press Pearl deteriorated dramatically today. The three-month old, 2,700 teu ship, carrying 25 tons of nitric acid, caught fire on Thursday off Colombo Port with Sri Lanka deploying aircraft and navy vessels to assist in firefighting.
This morning the vessel suffered an explosion, all crew have evacuated and at least eight containers, some feared to be containing acid, have tumbled into the sea, with authorities issuing swimming bans nearby.
With the vessel now in a dire state, an operation is underway to try and move it 50 nautical miles away from the shoreline. High winds in the area are also fanning the flames into a greater inferno.
Reporting indicates that a vessel being boarded in position 04°33′ 12” N 001°15′ 49” E. Boarders departed from the vessel at 20th of May at 01:45 UTC. Vessel and crew are reported to be safe.
The Greek-flagged tanker Astro Perseus was at sea about 3.1 nautical miles northwest of Pulau Nongsa in East Indonesia’s Batam when a suspicious small vessel approached it from the stern.
The armed robbers tried to board the ship with the help of a hook, but fortunately without success. The master also performed successful maneuvers in order to prevent the boarding attempt.
On May 9, 2335 local time, the master informed the Singapore Ship Traffic Management System (VTIS) that a search had been carried out on the ship and no one had been found on board. The entire crew was safe without any reports of theft, and no assistance was sought.
The Singapore Coast Guard was immediately informed, which in turn briefed the Malaysian and Indonesian authorities.
At the ReCAAP ISC Weekly Report for May 4-10, 2021, it reported on an attempted armed robbery against ships in Asia involving a tanker sailing East off the coast of Batamai, Indonesia.
With this incident, a total of 13 incidents have occurred in the Straits of Singapore since January 2021. The ReCAAP ISC is concerned about the continuing occurrence of incidents in the area and advises all vessels to be on high alert and vigilant when crossing the area.
An MT was approached to within 15 meters by two (2) small crafts with six POB on board each. Vessel and crew are safe.
Saudi Arabia said it destroyed a bomb-laden boat in the Red Sea near the refinery hub of Yanbu Tuesday.
The Defense Ministry said the vessel was remotely controlled and spotted at 6:40 a.m. local time. An investigation is ongoing, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
Earlier, the U.K. Maritime Trade Operations, linked to the Royal Navy, said it was looking into “reports of an incident” approximately two nautical miles off the coast of Yanbu.
The National Shipping Co. of Saudi Arabia, known as Bahri, denied reports that one of its vessels, the NCC Dammam, had been attacked. All the firm’s ships are safe, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Al Dubaikhi said in a phone interview.
Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast experienced a spate of shipping attacks and explosions late last year, some of which were claimed by Yemen’s Houthis rebels.
Read: Yemen Houthis Claim More Attacks on Saudi Aramco’s Oil Sites
The Houthis, battling a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war, also claimed to have targeted Yanbu, home to a Saudi Aramco oil refinery, last month with drones and missiles. That attack, like most of those claimed by the Houthis, caused little damage.
Reporting indicates that a Containership has been attacked 185nm SSW Bayelsa State. Further updates to follow.
A skiff approached MV Rosa within 5 cables for 45 minutes but failed to come alongside.