Two attacks against ships in Singapore Strait last week

ReCAAP ISC informed of two incidents of armed robbery against ships in Asia. Both were CAT 4 incidents that occurred onboard ships while underway in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) in the Singapore Strait.

The first incident involves the Panamanian-flagged reefer vessel Frio Olympic, approximately 5.8 nm northwest of Tanjung Pergam, Pulau Bintan, Indonesia in the eastbound lane of the TSS in the Singapore Strait, on 2 July.

While the reefer vessel was en route to Dalian, China, an unknown number of perpetrators were sighted on deck. The master raised the alarm and the perpetrators escaped immediately.

Then, the crew conducted a search on board and discovered that four boxes of spare parts were stolen. There was no confrontation with the crew.

The incident was reported to Singapore Vessel Traffic Information System (VTIS). The ship confirmed no assistance was required and resumed her voyage. A safety navigational broadcast was initiated. The Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN) Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF), Singapore Police Coast Guard and the Indonesian authorities were notified.

The second incident involved the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier Cardinal, approximately 7.7 nm northwest of Tanjung Tondang, Pulau Bintan, Indonesia in the eastbound lane of the TSS in the Singapore Strait.

While the bulk carrier was en route from Singapore to Qingdao, China, on 28 June, four perpetrators were sighted in the engine room workshop.

Upon being sighted, the perpetrators escaped via the emergency steering room to the ship’s stern deck.

A thorough search on board the ship was conducted twice with no further sighting of the perpetrators.

The markings found on ship railings at the stern indicated that the perpetrators had escaped using hooks and ropes. There was no confrontation with the crew and nothing was stolen.

The ship resumed voyage. The ship’s CSO reported the incident to the Singapore Port Operations Control Centre (POCC). A safety navigational broadcast was initiated. The RSN, Singapore Police Coast Guard and the Indonesian authorities were notified.

The report contains also reports of another two incidents outside Asia, in which a total of 14 crew members were kidnapped. Both incidents occurred on 2 July.

The first incident occurred on the FPSO ‘Sendje Berge’ while anchored at Okwori field offshore, Nigeria and the second incident on the general cargo ship Kota Budi while drifting in the Gulf of Guinea.

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Pirates Attack Second Vessel in Gulf of Guinea Kidnapping Five Crew

A cargo vessel was the latest target of pirates in the waters off Benin. This attack came just one day after reports of an even more brazen attack on a vessel in the oil fields in the Gulf of Guinea.

In the latest incident, security firm Dryad is reporting that heavily armed individuals boarded Pacific International Lines’ 27,379 DWT general cargo vessel the Kota Budi. Five Chinese nationals working as crew members, including possibly the master, were reportedly kidnapped from the Singapore-flagged vessel. Fifteen additional crew members remain aboard the vessel unharmed.

The attack took place around midnight local time on July 2. The Koti Budi at the time was reported to be approximately 150 miles offshore from the port of Cotonou, Benin after a call in the Nigerian port of Warri. 

Dryad is reporting that this is the seventh incident in the area in 2020. A total of 78 people have reportedly been kidnapped this year in incidents off West Africa. Dryad reports that kidnappings are 26 percent higher this year.

In a statement, Pacific International acknowledged the attack saying it was working with local authorities.

One day earlier, BW Offshore reported that its vessel the FPSO Sendje Berge was attacked by pirates near Nigeria and that nine crew members had been kidnapped. Dryad Global termed that incident as unique within the wider realm of offshore incidents in the region. Dryad says the manner and tactics used during the attack on the Sendje Berge were more consistent with attacks perpetrated by militants than pirates in the West African region. 

The area has been notorious for pirate attacks in recent years. The International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in its 2019 annual piracy report highlighted “an alarming increase in crew kidnappings across the Gulf of Guinea.” According to the IMB report, the number of crew kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea increased more than 50 percent to 121 sailors in 2019. The report said it those incidents equated to over 90% of global kidnappings reported at sea.

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Pirates kidnap nine Nigerian nationals in offshore attack

According to reports, another Nigerian pirate accident took place in the Gulf of Guinea; This time, pirates attacked the FPSO Sendje Berge and kidnapped nine Nigerian nationals.

Specifically, BW Offshore issued a statement informing that at 4:20 a.m. local time its FPSO Sendje Berge was attached by pirates offshore Nigeria, and nine Nigerian nationals were kidnapped. Dryad reports that three vessels approached the target with one acting as a decoy while the other two assaulted and boarded the Sendje Berge. The vessel was located on the Okwori field in Nigeria under contract to Addax Petroleum at the time of the assault.

The remaining people onboard are safe and no injuries have been reported. For the time being, the company is collaborating with the local authorities and the Nigerian Navy.

Following the incident, Dryad Global reports that the incident is “unique” within the wider realm of offshore incidents within West Africa. Dryad says the tactics used, including reports of explosives with possibly grenades and RPGs, is more consistent with attacks perpetrated by militants than pirates in the West African region.

In addition, the kidnapping of foreign personnel by groups involved in militancy is not unusual for the Niger Delta according to Dryad, but offshore operations are less frequently the target. According to Dryad’s calculations, 72 people have been kidnapped in the region so far in 2020, represented a 50 percent increase in incidents versus the prior year.

In line with a growing concern over the continued attacks against ships in the Gulf of Guinea, Risk Intelligence has recorded almost 100 maritime security incidents across the region in 2019 to date, around one third of those involved tanker vessels of all types.

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Al-Shabab claims killing 27 soldiers in southern Somalia

Somali army repels attack and an official says 87 fighters killed after group stormed Baar Sanguni base near Kismayo.

Somalia’s al-Shabab detonated a suicide car bomb then stormed a military base in the country’s south, claiming at least 27 soldiers were killed.

An official said the military repelled the attack and killed 87 fighters in fighting, dismissing the claim on Monday that dozens of Somali troops were dead.

Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab’s spokesman, said attackers overran the base in Baar Sanguni village – about 50km from the port city of Kismayo.

“We first attacked the base with a suicide car bomb and then stormed,” said Musab. “We killed 27 soldiers and took the base. Some soldiers fled into the jungles.”

The military sent reinforcements to the base following the explosion and heavy fighting.

Conflicting death tolls

Assistant information minister Aden Isak Ali told state news agency SONNA that soldiers were hunting down attackers who fled the base. “The national army defended itself and killed 87 militants,” he said.

However, Colonel Ahmed Hassan said troops killed 10 attackers.

The attack followed one last month by al-Shabab on the same base that wounded seven soldiers.

The armed group is battling to topple the central government and impose its rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Al-Shabab has killed thousands of Somalis across East Africa in a decade-long insurgency.

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Pirate Attack – Of Baraawe

Date: 22/07/2018

Time: 1422Z

Position: 01 06 N 044 02 E

 

On 22 July 2018 at 1422UTC a MV in position 01 06.32N 044 02.0E in vicinity of Baraawe reported being under attack. Attack has now ceased. THE MV IS NOW SAFE AND IN THE PORT OF BARAAWE.

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As Lashkar, Jaish plan sea borne attacks, how equipped is India to fight the maritime threat

New Delhi, July 19: An Intelligence Bureau report suggests that terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are planning an attack from the seas. This means that the terror groups would try and hit the Indian Navy.
The input which has been considered as an actionable one has prompted the Indian Navy to be on high alert. In addition to this the IB has also warned that a group of terrorists are waiting near the Leepa Valley, Dudhnihal and Kel to infiltrate into India.
The attack from the seas was witnessed during the 26/11 attack. This time around the alert suggests that the terrorists of both the groups are training hard in a bid to launch an attack on the Indian Navy. The threat looms large in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, an IB officer told OneIndia.
How equipped are these terror groups?
Several intelligence reports available with OneIndia state that the naval wing of these groups is handled by the Musa Company, which is the special services group of the Pakistan Army.
The naval wing of these terrorist groups is not often used by terror groups. It is part of the surprise element, the reports state. Since 2004, it had become mandatory for every Lashkar-e-Tayiba recruit to undergo a certain amount of maritime training. This apart, the terrorists also take part in classes on elementary flying.
As part of the training programme, the first class is held in Thakot and then at Murdike. The training programme comes to a close at Karachi and each of these sessions is conducted by officers of the Musa company.
Why the maritime threat needs to be taken seriously?
In the days to come the sea route would be the most preferred for terrorists. It is impossible to man the entire sea and hence in this regard, intelligence and coordination becomes the key. In addition to this there is also a dire need to introduce hi-tech technology to aid the Intelligence Bureau.
The reason why Intelligence, technology and coordination becomes crucial is because 90 per cent of the world trade is sea based and it is impossible to man each and every vessel on the sea. The smaller ones in particular pose the maximum danger.
The al-Shahbab- Lashkar-e-Tayiba bonhomie:

In a bid to boost up the maritime capabilities, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the al-Shahbab came together in 2011. The coming together of these two outfits was specifically to spruce up their maritime capabilities.

Investigations conducted have revealed that the pirates from Somalia who are dominant on Indian waters were sponsored by the al-Shahbab group which is linked to the al-Qaeda.
It was the ISI that had suggested that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the al-Shahbab come together and carry out strikes. The idea was to send out the terrorists along with some of the pirates in a bid to carry out strikes.
Since manning all vessels is an impossible task for India alone, it became necessary to seek the cooperation of other nations such as Africa. The Lashkar-e-Tayiba on the other hand entered into several alliances in a bid to spruce up its maritime capabilities. An operative by the name Abu Yakub was tasked with coordinating with the al-Shahbab.
A plan hatched back in 2011 indicated that these groups would send out several pirates into the sea in a bid to keep the Indian Navy busy. On the other hand they would take advantage of the situation and then get their terrorists to launch an attack on the Navy.
Post the 26/11 attack, maritime security had been increased. There are over 400 warships which are on guard. In addition to this several more coastal police stations were set up and the fishermen were roped in to provide human intelligence.
Maritime capabilities of terror groups:

Lashkar-e-Tayiba: High speed recreational boats, scuba diving equipment, water scooters.
Al Qaeda: Capable of underwater strikes by its suicide squad. Heavily dependant on Lashkar-e-Tayiba for equipment.
Jaish-e-Mohammad: Armed with 600 sea specialists, coordinates with Lashkar-e-Tayiba for equipment.
Jemmah Islamiah: Attempted an attack on a US vessel in Singapore, the groups is equipped with speed boats also known as suicide boats. Abu Sayaaf: Bombed the Super Ferry in 2004 that killed 100. High level of experience on sea, but still uses wooden boats loaded with machine guns.
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Ghana steps up attempts to improve maritime safety

As piracy increases in the world’s oceans, maritime safety requires a collaborative effort to ensure safety of lives and protection of property at sea. Under this, the Ghana Maritime Authority organized a 4-Day Crisis Response Training for security experts and players in the maritime sector, from 9 to 12 of July.

This exercise aimed to prepare the Ghana’s Crisis Response Team to combat any unforeseen incident on Ghana’s maritime domain. The training wanted to improve inter-agency cooperation in ensuring smooth maritime rescue activities.

Facilitators from the Gulf of Guinea Interregional Network updated trainees on current trends in maritime safety and security measures to save life at sea while also monitoring illegal activities such as illegal bunkering and oil spillage.

During the training, a simulation exercise took place for trainees to learn how to prevent an illegal oil bunkering. To check the effectiveness and competence of the program, trainees were divided into various units called cells according to their technical expertise.

Director General of the Ghana Maritime Authority, Mr. Kwame Owusu mentioned that Ghana is fully prepared to respond successfully to any maritime crisis. He also added that the Authority is preparing patrol vessels and drones to thwart potential pirates and other threats on the Ghanaian waters.

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UN says anti-piracy fund has boosted maritime security in Somalia

The UN counter-piracy fund that has been in existence since 2011 has boosted maritime security in Somalia and Western Indian Ocean coastline through enhanced prosecution of culprits, an official said.

Jaime Serpanchy, the Secretary of UN Counter Piracy Trust Fund (CPTF), said that technical support for countries affected by piracy in the Horn of Africa region has improved their capacity to prosecute criminals involved in the vice.

“The trust fund’s primary mission which is to assist countries in the horn and eastern African region carry out piracy prosecutions has been a success,” said Serpanchy.

“We are assisting these countries including Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Seychelles to counter all aspects of piracy through training of maritime police and agencies involved in prosecution of suspects,” she added.

The UN official spoke to Xinhua on the sidelines of the 21st Plenary Session on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia attended by an estimated 200 delegates from 68 countries.

Senior policymakers, representatives of multilateral agencies and security experts attended the three day Nairobi summit to discuss new strategies to eradicate piracy in Somalia waters.

Serpanchy said the UN counter piracy trust fund has facilitated the roll out of forty projects in the greater horn and eastern African region to promote maritime security that is key to economic growth.

“The biggest impact of the fund so far is the establishment of a piracy prosecution center in Seychelles. It is the only centre of its kind in the world,” Serpanchy said.

She noted the establishment of a specialized center to deal with maritime crimes has contributed to a sharp drop in hijacking of commercial vessels in Somalia and Western Indian Ocean coastlines.

“It is now possible to try pirates caught in the high seas and prevent them from interacting with the outside world,” said Serpanchy.

She revealed that the UN counter piracy trust fund has supported training of Kenyan prison personnel on human rights based prosecution of criminals involved in hijacking of merchant ships.

Source: Xinhua

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Three armed robberies against ships in Asia reported to ReCAAP ISC last week

In its weekly piracy report for 10-16 July 2018, ReCAAP ISC informed of three incidents of armed robbery against ships in Asia.

The first incident involved the LNG tanker ‘Innovator’. While anchored at Delta Anchorage Area Banuan, Batangas, Philippines, on 6 July, perpetrators boarded the ship, store ship stores and escaped. The duty watch alerted the master who sounded the general alarm and mustered the crew.

The hawse pipe was slightly moved and the crew suspected that the perpetrators had climbed through the anchor chain. The master reported the incident to VTMS Batangas. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) conducted an investigation and advised the master to take precautionary measures while anchored at Batangas Port.

The second incident involved the tug boat ‘Bintang Ocean 3’ and the barge ‘Winbuild 2313’, approximately 3.8 nm northeast of Tanjung Sengkuang, Pulau Batam, Indonesia, in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) of the Singapore Strait, on 7 July.

While tug boat, Bintang Ocean 3 towing barge, Winbuild 2313 was underway, Singapore Police Coast Guard reported to Singapore Port Operations Control Centre (POCC) at 0130 hrs that two sampans were spotted alongside Winbuild 2313. The VTIS Central contacted the tug boat and the master replied that everything was fine. At about 0320 hrs, the Singapore Police Coast Guard again reported to POCC that the two same sampans were still following at the stern of Winbuild 2313. At about 0325 hrs, the tug master reported to VTIS East that four coils of tow line were missing from Winbuild 2313.

Upon arrival at Changi Barge Holding Anchorage on the same day at about 0800 hrs, the Singapore Police Coast Guard boarded the ships and conducted an investigation. The crew was not injured.

The third incident involved the product tanker ‘Maersk Cancun’, on 10 July. While at berth at Sandakan Port, East Malaysia, an unknown number of perpetrators boarded the ship, stole ship stores and escaped. The deck watch crew later discovered that the forepeak store locker padlock was broken.

Upon checking, a ship’s bell, a coil of heaving line and two bicycles were found missing. The agent and PFSO were informed and thereafter, the local police conducted an investigation and took a statement from the Chief Officer. The crew was not injured.

The ReCAAP ISC urges ship master and crew to report all incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships to the nearest coastal State and flag State, exercise vigilance and adopt relevant preventive measures taking reference from the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.

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Pirate attack – 5NM West of Jazair Az Zubayr island

At 1512UTC on 03 June 2018 an MV in position: 14 57.1N 042 05.8E was attacked by a skiff with 6 POB. The skiff fired upon the vessel and AST returned fire before the skiff retreated. Vessel is SAFE.

Source: UKMTO

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