US releases video it claims shows Iran removing unexploded mine from Gulf tanker

(CNN)The United States military on Thursday released a video that it says shows an Iranian navy boat removing an unexploded mine attached to the hull of the Japanese-owned chemical tanker Kokura Courageous, one of two tankers attacked in the Gulf of Oman.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday blamed Iran for attacking the Kokura Courageous and another ship, Norwegian-owned Front Altair, saying the assessment was based on intelligence. Later Thursday night, US Central Command released the video, which it says shows Iranian sailors removing a mine from the Kokura Courageous’ hull.
In the video, a smaller boat is shown coming up to the side of the Japanese-owned tanker. An individual stands up on the bow of the boat and can be seen removing an object from the tanker’s hull. The US says that object is likely an unexploded mine.
The attack comes at a time of high tensions between the US and Iran, and could provide more fodder for Iran hawks within the administration, whose recent Iran saber-rattling has frustrated President Donald Trump. One of them, national security adviser John Bolton, announced last month that the Pentagon was deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in response to a “number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Iran.
Earlier in the day, four US officials told CNN the US had the images.
One of the officials said the video came from a US military aircraft that was recording as it flew overhead.
The boat made the move even after the destroyer USS Bainbridge, as well as a US drone and P-8 aircraft, had been on the scene for four hours. US defense officials believe that the Iranians were seeking to recover evidence of their involvement in the attack.
Another of the officials told CNN that multiple Iranian small boats have entered the area where the Bainbridge continues to be on the scene, prompting US Central Command to issue a statement saying, “No interference with USS Bainbridge, or its mission, will be tolerated.”
The two tankers — one carrying oil and the other transporting chemicals — were attacked in international waters near the strategically important Strait of Hormuz. All crew members were evacuated and were safe, according to the owners of the two ships.
Images released by the US Central Command on Thursday showed crew from the USS Bainbridge assisting crew members of the Kokuka Courageous following their rescue.
The vessels were hit “at or below the waterline, in close proximity to the engine room,” said the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko).
“These appeared to be well-planned and coordinated” attacks, the association said..
Jonathan Cohen, acting US ambassador to the United Nations, said Thursday that he echoed Pompeo’s comments in a private meeting of the UN Security Council, describing the attack as “another example of Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.”
The Iranian mission to the UN rejected the US’ claim.
Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for the Iranian mission, tweeted a statement saying Iran “categorically rejects the US unfounded claim” that Iran is behind the attacks and “condemns it in the strongest possible terms.”
He added that Iran “expresses concern” over the “suspicious incidents.” And he called it “ironic” that the US, which withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is now calling Iran to come back for negotiations and diplomacy.
Following the attack, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said “suspicious doesn’t begin to describe” this latest incident, noting that one of the tankers is Japanese owned and the attack took place as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was visiting Iran in an effort to calm tensions between Washington and Tehran.
“Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM was meeting with Ayatollah [Ali Khamenei] for extensive and friendly talks. Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning,” Zarif tweeted Thursday.
On Friday, the President of the Japanese shipping company that owns the Kokuka Courageous held a press conference in Tokyo, in which he denied that a mine had been used in the tanker attack.
The President of Kokuka Sangyo Marine, Yutaka Katada, said he believed there was “no possibility of mine attack” owing to the attack being “well above the naval line.”
Katada said he had not seen the images released by the US military. He referenced the account of a crew member who witnessed the second blast and saw a “flying shell.”
The incident follows attacks on four oil tankers in the United Arab Emirates’ port of Fujairah in May.
Initial findings from an international investigation of the attack last month concluded that a “state actor” was the most likely culprit.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Norway told the UN Security Council last week that there are “strong indications that last month’s attacks were part of a sophisticated and coordinated operation carried out with significant operational capacity.”
Source: CNN
FacebookTwitter

In video: Explosions hit two large tankers in Sea of Oman

Media reports say two large tankers have been hit by explosions in the Sea of Oman.

 

Source: PRESSTV

FacebookTwitter

Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia

Posn: 01:35.83N – 104:28.73E,

Around 13nm ENE of Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia.

On 31 May 2019 at 1530 UTC duty officers onboard an anchored bulk carrier noticed an unauthorised person on the forecastle and proceeded to investigate.
As the officers arrived, the person threatened them with a knife and escaped with his accomplice who was waiting in a boat. Incident reported to the local authorities.
Coast Guard boarded the vessel to investigate.
Nothing reported stolen.

Source: ICC

FacebookTwitter

Maritime piracy at Gulf of Guinea calls for immediate action to protect seafarers

Members of the shipping community, Flag States and Agencies from Gulf of Guinea gathered at the IMO Headquarters for a day-long symposium on Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea. The shipping industry, as well as seafarer groups, organized the event aiming to give emphasis to the continuing danger to seafarers that are sailing in the Gulf of Guinea.

Opening the symposium, Dr. Grahaeme Henderson, Chair of the UK Shipping Defence Advisory Committee and Vice President of Shell Shipping & Maritime, stated that the high level of piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea is not acceptable. However, such phenomena are taking place on a day to day basis, and urgent action is necessary.

What is more, the industry is concerned about the increase in piracy attacks, especially as the IMB has shown that the number of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea region had doubled in 2018. In addition, there is an increase regarding kidnapping for ransom and armed robbery incidents. In fact, piracy expert Professor Bertand Monnet, who has interviewed pirate gangs in the Niger Delta, made an estimation that there were about 10 groups of pirates that were responsible for most of the attacks in the area.

However, the event emphasized that the region is starting to build capacity and joint collaboration to tackle maritime crime through the Yaoundé Process, which focuses on joint cooperation across the region for reporting and response.

Despite these actions, immediate actions are needed. For this reason, attendees were encouraged to hear about recent Spanish Navy action to help Equatorial Guinea rescue seafarers from a piracy attack last month, as well as the new US program to embark law enforcement officers on regional vessels. Jakob Larsen, Head of Security for BIMCO pointed out that regional states must play their role as well.

“Nigerian piracy mainly affects a small geographical area of around 150 x 150 nautical miles. The problem can be solved easily and quickly, especially if Nigeria partners with international navies. Nigeria holds the key to solving this problem”

In addition, the forum included an interview guided by Mr. Branko Berlan, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Representative to the IMO, with a seafarer who had been attacked and kidnapped in a recent incident. The seafarer, who did not want to be identified, stated the attack appeared to be well organized and led from ashore.

He explained that the first indication he had of the attack was a knock on his cabin door and two men holding guns appeared. After that he was held in a camp on shore along with other members of his crew until his release could be secured.

Moreover, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the Director General and CEO of the Nigerian Maritime Authority and Safety Agency (NIMASA), highlighted in his keynote address that the maritime security risks are present in the Gulf of Guinea, but stated that new initiatives are starting which could improve the joint capacity of Nigerian law enforcement and Navy capabilities to eradicate kidnapping. He also stated that he aspires to enhance international cooperation, especially with the shipping industry.

Concerns over increased piracy in the Gulf of Guinea are growing, leading to several member states to submit proposals that could help address the crisis. Commenting on the recurring threat of piracy, Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping, stated that:

“It is unacceptable that seafarers are being exposed to such appalling dangers and we need the authorities to take action now.”

Source: SAFETY4SEA

FacebookTwitter

Two (2) vessels attacked in Gulf Of Oman

Date: 13 June 2019

Psn: 2527N 05722E

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is run by the British navy, put out the alert early on Thursday. It did not elaborate but said Britain and its partners are investigating. The group urged “extreme caution”.

First vessel has been identified as the Front Altair, a Marshall Islands-flagged ship built in 2016. The Frontline ship has been abandoned and all crew have been safely picked up by the nearest vessel, the 30,100-dwt cargoship Hyundai Dubai (built 2011).

The second vessel was identified as the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous which it had “fallen silent” in the same area and was not able to be contacted.

UK and its partners are currently investigating

FacebookTwitter

Frontline and Schulte tankers ‘torpedoed’ off Fujairah “Successive explosions” reported as crew abandon vessels.

Two tankers operated by Frontline and Bernhard Schulte have reportedly been the subject of a “torpedo” attack off Fujairah in the UAE, according to broking and ship agency sources on Thursday.

The 110,000-dwt LR2 Front Altair (built 2016) is carrying naphtha to Japan.

Sources close to the site told TradeWinds the Frontline ship has been abandoned and all crew have been safely picked up by the nearest vessel, the 30,100-dwt cargoship Hyundai Dubai (built 2011).

‘State actor’ behind tanker attacks, UAE tells UN

Iranian ‘threat’ has diminished, claims US

The master of Hyundai Dubai reported the cause of the fire as a “surface attack.”

No one was immediately available at Frontline for further information.

FRONT ALTAIR Product tanker 109,894-dwt Built 2016 Owner/manager: Frontline

Sources said another ship, the 27,000-dwt Bernhard Schulte-operated tanker Kokuka Courageous (built 2010), had “fallen silent” in the same area and was not able to be contacted.

The vessel was heading from Saudi Arabia to Singapore with a cargo of methanol.

Schulte said in a statement the ship had been “damaged as a result of the suspected attack.”

“The hull has been breached above the water line on the starboard side. All crew are reported safe and only one minor injury reported.”

The vessel is about 70 nautical miles from Fujairah and about 14 nautical miles from the coast of Iran.

“The Kokuka Courageous remains in the area and is not in any danger of sinking. The cargo of methanol is intact,” the statement added.

The injured crew member was receiving medical treatment on another vessel nearby.

UK Maritime Trade Operations, run by the British Navy, said on its website that the UK and its partners were investigating an “unspecified” incident involving the Frontline ship.

The group urged “extreme caution”.

Vessel on fire

Reuters cited an official at the port of Fujairah as saying Front Altair was on fire in the Sea of Oman.

KOKUKA COURAGEOUS Chemical & Oil tanker 27,000 dwt Built 2010 Owner/manager: Kokuka Sangyo, Osaka, Japan Technical manager: Bernhard Schulte Shipmagement (Singapore)

The vessel had sent a distress signal to the port.

Joshua Frey, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said his command was “aware” of a reported incident in the area. He declined to elaborate.

“We are working on getting details,” Frey told The Associated Press.

“US naval forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12am local time and a second one at 7:00am,” the US 5th fleet said in a statement. “US Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance.”

Iran’s Al Alam television station reported that two tankers came under attack as a result of “successive explosions”, without offering evidence.

The attack is believed to have taken place 25 miles off the Iranian coastline.

AIS data shows Front Altair left Ruwais in the UAE on 11 June and is currently underway in the Arabian Gulf.

Four tankers were damaged by a limpet mine attack off Fujairah last month.

The UAE concluded that this was the work of a “state agent,” but stopped short of naming names. The US has pointed the finger at Iran, which denied the attack.

Source: TradeWinds

FacebookTwitter

‘Unspecified incident’ in Gulf of Oman, British maritime safety group says

The incident comes a month after an attack on four tankers off the coast of the UAE

A British maritime safety group warned that there had been an “unspecified incident” in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is run by the British navy, put out the alert early on Thursday. It did not elaborate but said Britain and its partners are investigating. The group urged “extreme caution”.

Cmdr Joshua Frey, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said his command was “aware” of a reported incident in the area. He declined to elaborate.

“We are working on getting details,” Cmdr Frey told The Associated Press.

Iran’s Al Alam television station reported that two large oil tankers came under attack as a result of “successive explosions”, without offering evidence. Reports about an attack remain unconfirmed.

The coordinates offered for the incident by the British group put it some 45 kilometres (25 miles) off the Iranian coastline.

Benchmark Brent crude, apparently reacting to the incident, rose in early trading Thursday to over $61, a 2.3 per cent increase.

Bloomberg identified one of the vessels as Front Altair, a Marshall Islands-flagged ship built in 2016 that had set sail from the Emirati port of Ruwais late on Tuesday local time and was set to arrive at the Taiwanese port of Kaohsiung on June 30. An Emirati official told Bloomberg that the tanker is on fire and that the vessel had been loaded with oil in Abu Dhabi before setting off on its journey.

The second vessel was identified by sources as the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous, Reuters reported. It set off from the Saudi port of Al Jubail on June 10 and was on course to reach Singapore by June 22.

Thursday’s maritime alert comes after what the US has described as Iranian attacks on four oil tankers nearby, off the coast of the UAE, in May. Iran has denied being involved.

Those apparent attacks occurred off the Emirati port of Fujairah, also on the Gulf of Oman, approaching the critical Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Arabian Gulf through which a third of all oil traded by sea passes.

Sources: The National, Bloomberg, Reuters

FacebookTwitter

Gulf of Guinea Piracy Continues to Threaten Seafarers – Industry Wants Action Now

Members of the shipping community, Flag States and Agencies from Gulf of Guinea gathered at the Headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for a day-long symposium on Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea. The event, co-sponsored by BIMCO, IMCA, ICS, ITF and OCIMF, featured speakers from regional maritime agencies as well as shipping officials, academics and military staff. The shipping industry, along with seafarer groups, organized the event to highlight the continuing danger to seafarers operating in the Gulf of Guinea. In opening the symposium, Dr. Grahaeme Henderson, Chair of the UK Shipping Defence Advisory Committee and Vice President of Shell Shipping & Maritime, said “Simply put, the high level of piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea is not acceptable. Yet it is happening every day and this is not business as usual. We need to take urgent action now.”

Concerns raised by industry were supported by figures from the International Maritime Bureau showing that the number of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea region had doubled in 2018. There has also been a marked increase towards kidnapping for ransom and armed robbery incidents. Piracy expert Professor Bertand Monnet, who has interviewed pirate gangs in the Niger Delta, estimated that there were approximately 10 groups of pirates that were responsible for the majority of attacks in the area, and they were well organized and motivated.

Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the Director General and CEO of the Nigerian Maritime Authority and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in his keynote address to the meeting acknowledged the maritime security risks present in the Gulf of Guinea, but stated that new initiatives underway to improve the joint capacity of Nigerian law enforcement and Navy capabilities could make seafarer kidnappings “history” within a matter of months. He went on to state that he is keen to improve international cooperation, particularly with the shipping industry.

According to Dr. Peterside: “We have no option but to work together, but we cannot have imposed solutions”. He also stated that “NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy will also be hosting a Global Maritime Security Conference in October to seek tailored short and long term solutions to strengthen regional and international collaborations in the Gulf of Guinea.”

The forum also included an interview guided by Mr. Branko Berlan, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Representative to the IMO, with a seafarer who had been attacked and kidnapped in a recent incident. While the seafarer is still recovering from the shock of the ordeal and did not want to be identified, he stated the attack appeared to be well organized and led from ashore. “The first indication I had of the attack was a knock on my cabin door and two men holding guns appeared.” He was subsequently held in a camp on shore along with other members of his crew until his release could be secured.

Speakers at the event emphasized the region was starting to build capacity and joint cooperation to fight maritime crime through the Yaoundé Process, which focuses on joint cooperation across the region for reporting and response. The international community is also sponsoring long-term capacity building and partnerships.

However, the shipping industry, seafarer groups and Flag States are keen to identify actions that can have an immediate impact. On this note, attendees were encouraged to hear about recent Spanish Navy action to assist Equatorial Guinea to rescue seafarers from a piracy attack last month, as well as the new US program to embark law enforcement officers on regional vessels. Jakob Larsen, Head of Security for BIMCO pointed out that regional states needed to play their part as well.

“Nigerian piracy mainly affects a small geographical area of around 150 x 150 nautical miles. The problem can be solved easily and quickly, especially if Nigeria partners with international navies. Nigeria holds the key to solving this problem,” Larsen said.

The symposium was held in the lead-up to a series of meetings focused on seafarer safety and security at the IMO. Concerns over increased piracy in the Gulf of Guinea have resulted in several member states submitting proposals that could help address the crisis. According to Russell Pegg, Security Adviser at the Oil Companies International Marine Forum, “We are encouraging all stakeholders to take a pro-active role on this issue and are working with member states to support those proposals that could help mitigate the risks to seafarers.”

Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping concluded, “It is unacceptable that seafarers are being exposed to such appalling dangers and we need the authorities to take action now.”

Source: HELLENIC SHIPPING NEWS

FacebookTwitter

MARSEC changes security level near Fujairah after sabotage

The Norwegian Maritime Authority informs that in light of the sabotage act against four vessels off Fujairah port, the Maritime Security (MARSEC) adjusted the security levels in the area to ISPS1 and advise shipowners to carefully consider measures from ISPS2.

Specifically, the Norwegian Maritime Authority highlights that although no further information has been given on the matter of the attack, it is important that shipowners carefully consider measures, regarding current threats against Norwegian ships in the defined area.

Generally, the attack has raised concerns all along the shipping industry, as on the one hand some suggest that the sabotage act could lead to cyber attacks against vessels operating in that area.

On the other hand, London’s insurance markets extended the list of waters deemed as high risk to include Oman.

Up to now, the UAE has not yet blamed anyone for the sabotage of four vessels.

Concluding, OCIMF and Intertanko released recommendations, proposing shipowners and shipping companies send guidance to their vessel.

Source: SAFETY4SEA

 

FacebookTwitter

‘State actor’ behind tanker attacks, UAE tells UN

Security Council hears that divers were used to attack ships, but not cause a major explosion.

A ‘state actor’ was most likely behind the attacks on four tankers off Fujairah last month, a preliminary investigation has claimed.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards ‘highly likely’ to have attacked ships in Fujairah

“While investigations are still ongoing, these facts are strong indications that the four attacks were part of a sophisticated and coordinated operation carried out by an actor with significant operational capacity, most likely a state actor,” the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-led probe said.

The findings were presented to the United Nations Security Council late on Tursday in a briefing by the permanent representatives to the UN from the UAE, Norway and Saudi Arabia.

The assessment of the damage to the four vessels and the chemical analysis of the debris recovered revealed that it was “highly likely” that limpet mines were used in the attacks on 12 May 2019.

“Based on the evaluation of radar data, and the short time several of the targeted vessels had been at anchor prior to the attacks, it appears most likely that the mines were placed on the vessels by divers deployed from fast boats,” the report said.

“The attacks required intelligence capabilities for the deliberate selection of four oil tankers from among almost 200 vessels of all types that lay at anchor off Fujairah at the time of the attacks.

“One of the targets was at the opposite end of the anchorage area from the other ships, which indicates that these were premeditated strikes, rather than targets picked at random.”

The UAE-led probe said the attacks “likely required the positive identification of these pre-selected targets by the operatives carrying out the attacks”.

Permanent representatives to the UN from the UAE, Norway and Saudi Arabia present their findings to the UN Security Council.

“The attacks required trained divers; the explosive charges were placed with a high degree of precision under the waterline, in ways that were designed to incapacitate the ships without sinking them or detonating their cargoes – indicating minute knowledge of the design of the targeted ships,” it said.

“The attacks required a high degree of coordination among what most likely were several teams of operatives. This included the timed detonation of all four explosive charges, sequenced within less than an hour.”

The UAE-led probe said the attacks also required the “expert navigation of fast boats”, with understanding of the geographic area, that were able to “intrude into UAE territorial waters and to exfiltrate the operatives” after delivering the explosive charges.

The UAE, Norway, and Saudi Arabia said they intend to share these preliminary findings with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Last month a confidential report from the Norwegian Shipowners’ Mutual War Risks Insurance Association (DNK) said the attacks were likely to have been carried out by underwater drones.

The ships damaged in the attacks were the Bahri-owned 299,000-dwt VLCC Amjad (built 2017), the 105,000-dwt aframax Al Marzoqah (built 1999), the 47,000-dwt crude tanker Andrea Victory (built 2005) and the UAE-flagged bunker vessel A.Michel.

Source: TradeWinds

FacebookTwitter
Language »