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Shippers have paid $110m in ransom this year

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on November 8, 2011 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Ransom payments paid by shipping companies to Somali pirates have reached nearly $110 million this year — a 37 per cent jump in two years — despite the increasing success of international naval forces in preventing pirate attacks.

According to Rear Admiral Christian Canova of the European Naval Task Force (EUNavFor) operating off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, there were only 10 ships and 247 seafarers being held hostage in mid October compared with double the number of vessels a year ago. The International Maritime Bureau has confirmed the increasing success of the navy saying that of the 199 attacks on vessels in the first nine months of this year, only 24 had been successful. “Somali pirates are finding it harder to hijack ships and get the ransom they ask for,” said IMB director Captain Pottengal Mukundan. But the result is that pirates are demanding ever higher ransom payments for the seafarers they capture.

Rear Admiral Canova also told the European Parliament that the failure to agree on a set policy on Somali pirates was hampering future operations. He cited the example of the fact that EUNavFor surveillance aircraft had identified pirate camps along the Somali coastline prior to the end of the monsoon season. But due to “disagreement” among EU member states and Nato members regarding the use of force against pirates onshore, no military action was taken against those bases. This is an issue that infuriates international trade unions, with Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson saying that if an agreed policy was not made then seafarers would boycott the entire Somali coast. “At what point would it be considered reckless to send seafarers into the high risk area,” he asked. “Why do military forces not take out the pirate bases ashore and attack their business model? Lots of questions (but) no simple answers.”

There are also concerns that with cutbacks in military spending in Western countries that naval resources will be shifted from the Gulf. Some warships used for piracy patrols were recently switched to the Mediterranean to support operations in Libya and naval experts say that most Western navies are too tightly stretched. The UK Foreign office minister Henry Bellingham says that Britain supports the use of private armed security teams on ships providing they are properly regulated. He also said that it was a “fallacy” that pirates are not being prosecuted or imprisoned. The minister said that more than 1,000 Somali pirates were currently being held in custody in over 20 countries, including three pirate leaders and financiers. Source: Reuters


Industry campaign hits the big screen in battle against Somali piracy

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on October 7, 2011 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)

SOS SaveOurSeafarers, a high profile, shipping industry anti- piracy campaign is taking its message to celluloid with the launch of a short video highlighting the human and economic cost of Somali piracy.

 

 

The six-minute video was launched this week at the Safety4Seainternational maritime security conference in Athens and highlights the significant threat of Somali piracy attacks for the worldwide seafarer community and potentially for world trade itself.

The video, which is also being posted on YouTube, uses a mixture of hard-hitting real life interviews, and the latest technology to create a “Hollywood style” action sequence where a ship is captured and hostages taken. This is followed by some hard-hitting thoughts from a former hostage, from the EUNAVFOR Chief of Staff, and from a member of the SOS Steering Group.

Commenting on the launch of the video, Bill Box from SaveOurSeafarers, said: “Whilst recent incidents such as the high-profile kidnappings of Judith Tebutt and Marie Dedieu have put the issue in the headlines, these two incidents barely scrape the surface of this ongoing crisis.

“Seafarers have been constantly under threat from Somali pirates for the last five years, with at times more than 800 innocent seafarers being held hostage for months on end in appalling conditions and facing mental and physical torture at the hands of their captors. Piracy costs the global economy as much as £12billion a year and continues to threaten key transport routes through the Indian Ocean.”

“The aim of our video is to take the campaign message to a wider audience and to gain support outside as well as inside the maritime industry, calling for more determined government action against Somali piracy.”

The campaign, launched in March this year, is made up of the largest ever grouping of international seafarers’ organisations, shipping companies and shipping industry associations. It has already received backing from the British, Philippine and Georgian governments and has seen support from 180 countries.

Source: SaveOurSeafarers


Seafarer death toll mounts as Somali pirates hijack, torture, intimidate & murder

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on June 22, 2011 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (0)

62 seafarers have died in the past four years as a direct result of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, through deliberate murder by pirates, suicide during the period of captivity, death from malnutrition and disease, death by drowning, or heart failure just after the hijacking. This shocking figure has prompted the shipping industry’s SOS SaveOurSeafarers campaign to give even greater emphasis to its worldwide call for government action to tackle the issue.

“During this same period, over 3,500 seafarers have been kidnapped and held hostage by pirate gangs, who subject them to traumas such as being used as human shields, being forced to operate their ship as a pirate mother ship under pirate control, and to extreme mental as well as physical anguish,” says Giles Heimann, Chairman of the SOS SaveOurSeafarers campaign.

“Hundreds of these seafarers have been subjected to horrific torture including being hung by the ankles over the side of the ship, being shut in the ship’s freezer room, having cable ties tightened round the genitals, being beaten, punched and kicked. Many of these seafarers remain traumatised and unable to return to their seafaring careers long after the hijack is over, if at all.”

Dipendra Rathore, a 22 year-old Indian deck cadet, was held hostage for 8 months on board the Merida Marguerite. He is just one of the pirates’ victims. “At my age you can still bear pain … watching people twice my age being tortured, crying and begging for help is what really measured me. I felt so bad for them but I could do nothing about it, except for praying ... and then came the time when I lost faith and stopped praying too.”

Dipendra has found his faith again, and he is one of those who refuses to let these thugs win and is determined to go back to sea. Others may never recover from the psychological damage and will lose their livelihood rather than go back to sea.

Heimann continues: “It is terrible, and completely unacceptable, that ordinary people going about their everyday work should have to encounter such horrors. There are more than 100,000 seafarers at any one time either preparing to go through this area (training and effecting the so-called ‘hardening’ of the ship with physical defences), or actually transiting these waters. Taking their families’ feelings into account, you have up to half a million people every day gripped by fear due to Somali piracy.”

The shipping industry continues to recognise and appreciate the constructive and supportive role played by the naval forces in this area. But their effectiveness is impeded by the lack of political will in many governments to authorise the arrest and prosecution of detained pirates caught red handed. This in turn restricts naval/military operations to no more than a 'catch and release' exercise that deters and disrupts the pirates only to a limited extent. The vast majority of pirates caught are released in this way.

These 62 tragic deaths come as a direct consequence of pirate actions, but it is government inaction that has allowed piracy to spiral out of control in this area. It’s time to stop this outrage. It’s time for governments to take action. It’s time for each one of us to stand up for the seafarers who bring us almost all our daily material needs.

The SOS SaveOurSeafarer campaign is now supported by 24 industry organisations, signifying a unanimous strength of purpose from all sides of the shipping industry.

SOS www.saveourseafarers.com allows supporters to specifically ask their Government to take the necessary steps against the scourge of piracy at sea and ashore by:

• reducing the effectiveness of the easily-identifiable mother ships.

• authorising naval forces to hold pirates and deliver them for prosecution and punishment.

• increasing naval assets available in this area.

• providing greater protection and support for seafarers.

• tracing and criminalising the organisers and financiers behind the criminal networks.

Just two clicks adds another voice to the campaign to protect our seafarers who in turn protect shipping routes and provide us with our fuel, food and clothing. Are we prepared to go without?


Piracy watchdog issues South China Sea alert

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on June 3, 2011 at 10:04 PM Comments comments (0)

A global maritime watchdog on Friday warned ships traversing the South China Sea bordering Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore following the hijack of three tugboats and a barge in recent weeks.

 

 

Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) piracy reporting centre based in Kuala Lumpur, told AFP alerts have been sent to ships in the area amid a sudden rash of hijackings.

"We are sending out this alert as these are the first three hijackings of vessels in the South China Sea this year," he said.

"Normally pirates in the area are opportunistic as they rob a ship and flee but the hijacking of a vessel requires planning so we believe a syndicate is involved," Choong added.

"As most bigger ships have transmitters on board that help authorities locate them, we believe that pirates in the area are hijacking tugboats which are small and so are not required to have such transmitters," he said.

Choong said the latest incident occurred on June 1 when the IMB received a distress signal from an Indonesian tugboat off Batam island. Authorities were able to locate the vessel and detain the pirates.

However, they were not so lucky in the case of a tug and barge travelling from Kuching on Borneo island to Port Klang in Peninsula Malaysia, when the vessels failed to dock by May 30.

He said Malaysian maritime officials located the barge which was adrift in the South China Sea while a fishing vessel rescued the tug's 10 crew members who were also set adrift in the area. The tug is still missing.

Armed pirates also hijacked another tugboat and barge travelling from Singapore to Cambodia, off Tioman island on March 24, with its 10 crew abandoned in the South China Sea in a raft. The tug and barge are also missing.

"We are urging ships to be on the lookout as unlike in places like Somalia, pirates in these waters abort their attack once spotted," Choong said.

Seafarers have reported a surge in attacks by armed pirates in the South China Sea with 41 in the area since January, according to the IMB.

Source: AFP


Singapore-flagged tanker robbed by pirates

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on June 2, 2011 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

A Singapore-flagged tanker was hit by pirates east of Horsburgh lighthouse early on Monday morning, Seatrade Asia online reports.The Dong Jiang was 30nm east of Horsburgh lighthouse when six pirates boarded the vessel at 01-29hrs according to a report from the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre. “The robbers stole cash and other valuables before they escaped,” the report said. The vessel was bound for Balongon, Indonesia from Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia. The crew were not injured in the attack. Source : PortNews

Somali Pirates Outrun By Sea Shepherd Activists in Gulf of Aden

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on May 16, 2011 at 11:24 PM Comments comments (0)

Last week en route to the Red Sea, The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s flagship vessel, the Steve Irwin, was being chased for several miles by 3 suspicious skiffs, totaling 13 people dispersed among the boats. The Steve Irwin has recently been outfitted with a new camouflage paint job, “77” largely branded on the bow of the vessel, and the United Nations flag waving from its mast. Previously, a U.S. military Blackhawk helicopter has mistaken the Irwin for a Dutch warship. It’s thought that maybe the illusion of a government ship could have helped keep the pirates at bay in the infamously dangerous Gulf of Aden where pirates are rampant.

A Quartermaster aboard the Steve Irwin stated that they were aware of the potential risks of sailing off the coast of the horn of Africa, but even while the scene was unfolding through their binoculars, they stayed confident in that they were in no true imminent danger. The Irwin’s crew is extremely trusting and reliant to their seasoned mariner andveteran navigator of the pirated waters, Captain Lock Maclean. The Quartermaster reported that Captain Maclean remained cool, calm and collected through the ordeal while the entire crew of 20 took all necessary and possible precautions to make sure the vessel was secured. Captain Maclean had notified the proper naval authorities as soon as the skiffs were in view, as well as alerting an adjacent Maersk ship via radio. Eventually, due to uncertain reasons, the skiffs retreated and both the Steve Irwin and the Maersk containership advanced into the Red Sea. Maclean couldn’t stress enough how proud he was of the bravery exhibited by his crew of volunteers. The paint job was part of a measure taken by the team to deter pirates as they do not carry weapons. It was supplemented to be convincing with barbed wire, 4foot long steel spikes, water cannons, and imitation weapons. The Steve Irwin and the Sea Shepherds are often and ironically referred to as the “pirates of compassion” and are launching their 2nd annual Bluefin tuna campaign, Operation Blue Rage II, with a pilot whale slaughter campaign in the Faroe Islands to follow. Source : 4share


Weekly Maritime Crime and Piracy Report

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on May 9, 2011 at 7:59 PM Comments comments (0)

CARIBBEAN SEA: A RoRo was robbed 2 May 2011 at 0740 UTC while anchored inposition 09:58.6N - 083:01.0W at the Puerto Limon anchorage, Costa Rica. Ten robbers boarded the ship, tied up the crew, kicked them, and stole their personal property. The crew freed themselves about 20 minutes after the robbers escaped with the stolen items.

GULF OF GUINEA:• Three crew members were kidnapped off a tug 1 May 2011 at 1700 UTC while anchored in a position 20NM offshore from Bonny Island, Nigeria. Robbers used at least one speedboat to board the vessel. The robbers destroyed the communications equipment, stole the crew valuables, and seized three Nigerian national crewmembers, to include the Master and First Mate. The other six crew members were left onboard. (Commercial Sources)

• Two robbers attempted to board a tanker 29 April at 2255 UTC while at anchor in position 06:06N - 002:37E, approximately 22NM south of Porto Novo, Benin. Seven armed robbers approached the tanker in a boat. Two robbers tried to board the tanker from the fenders. After an alarm was raised, the robbers aborted the attack and traveled toward Lagos, Nigeria. (IMB)

INDIAN OCEAN: • Cargo ship (ITAL GLAMOUR) was fired upon by one skiff with six pirates onboard 4 May at 0432 UTC while underway in position 13:50N - 06:554E, approximately 489NM southwest of Belekeri, India. A wooden mothership launched the skiff. The pirates fired upon the vessel with an RPG and automatic weapons. Vessel sustained some damage from the weapons fire. (UKMTO, IMB, Open Sources)

• Chemical tanker (GEMINI) was hijacked 30 April at 0430 UTC while underway in position 07:01S - 041:22E, 140NM southeast of Zanzibar, Tanzania. Pirates attacked from two skiffs. (IMB, UKMTO) GULF OF ADEN:

• Cargo ship (NAXIHE) was fired upon by one skiff with 3-4 pirates onboard 28 April while underway in position 12:53N - 04820E, approximately 110NM southwest of Al Mukalla, Yemen. (Operator, Open Sources) SOUTH CHINA SEA: • A barge was robbed 29 April at 1730 UTC while preparing to be anchored in position 01:20N - 104:06E, approximately 14NM east of Singapore. Pirates boarded the barge while it was being towed by a tug and stole some of the cargo before they escaped. (IMB) Indian Ocean Piracy Forecast, week of 5 May 2011:

GULF OF ADEN: Over the next 72 hours weather conditions will be conducive for small boat activity in the Gulf of Aden with winds at 5-10 knots and associated wave heights of 1-3 feet.

INDIAN OCEAN: In the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Somalia, weather conditions are conducive to small boat operations. Forecasts indicate wind speeds of 10-15 knots with associated wave heights of 2-4 feet. Weather conditions are favorable for piracy activity as we continue through the spring transition into the southwest monsoon season (June). Currents off the Somalia coast are variable with speeds up to 1 knot from the Equator to 5N. Current speeds up to 3 kts may be seen along the coast between 5N and 10N. Winds and seas will continue to increase through the month of May as the SW monsoon sets up, making the weather conditions less favorable to small boat activity. Source: International Maritime Bureau


Anti-piracy robot climbs onto pirate ships before they attack

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on May 5, 2011 at 6:39 PM Comments comments (1)

The latest weapon in the battle to stop Somali pirates is this magnetic robot that can sneak up the side of a pirate ship, then send video images back to local ships.

Developed from the Recon Scout throwbot, this new version comes equipped with magnetic wheels that allow it climb right up the steel side of a ship. It can also be fired from a small cannon, giving it far greater range than the original hand thrown version.

This looks like a great tool, and when combined with something like that acoustic cannon to distract that bad guys, it could offer a useful sneak peek at the pirates.

No word on when the new robot will be deployed, but ReconRobotics just announced that they have signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific.)

Source: Dvice


Anti-piracy e-Learning approved by DNV

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on May 5, 2011 at 6:36 PM Comments comments (0)

International Maritime Security Network (IMSN) has become the first maritime security training centre to offer an e-Learning Anti-Piracy Defense Course certified by Det Norske Veritas (DNV) under its

 

SeaSkill standard.

In the first quarter of 2011, pirates killed seven crewmembers, injured 34, and took 344 hostages according to International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) global piracy report. Additionally, 18 vessels were hijacked worldwide.

IMSN's Anti-Piracy Defense Course provides training for activities such as watch-keeping, lockdown procedures, anti-piracy drills and hand-to-hand defensive tactics, as well as contingency plans for issues such as surviving a hostage attack or movement of prisoners. The training course also covers concepts related to anti-piracy laws.

IMSN's anti-piracy training course is available online or on DVD.

"Mariners' lives are at risk everyday around the globe. Knowledge is the key component to safety and it's vital that ship owners and crew members take the protective measures of a training course to combat piracy," said Captain Timothy Nease, co-founder and CEO of IMSN.

"DNV's highly respected SeaSkill certification programme is widely known for its stringent reviews and audits to continuously exceed excellence, so it's remarkable for IMSN to have the first course certification for maritime anti-piracy training."

Source: The Digital Ship


Nine Piracy Incidents At Sea In Malaysia In First Quarter Of 2011

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on April 18, 2011 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Nine piracy incidents at sea occurred in Malaysia in the first quarter of 2011, including the hijacking of a tugboat and barge off Tioman Island.Vessels were also boarded in seven incidents by robbers armed with guns and knives, said the director of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Thursday. He said piracy at sea had hit an all-time high in the first three months of this year with 142 attacks worldwide where 18 vessels were hijacked, 344 crew members taken hostage, and six kidnapped.

Another 45 vessels were boarded and 45 more reported being fired upon, he said in the statement. "The sharp rise was driven by a surge in piracy off the coast of Somalia where 97 attacks were recorded, up from 35 in the same period last year. Figures for piracy and armed robbery at sea in the past three months were higher than we had ever recorded in the first quarter of any year," he said. The IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre which has monitored piracy worldwide since 1991, also reported that during the same period, pirates had murdered seven crew members and injured 34 compared with just two injuries in 2006. Mukundan said of the 18 ships hijacked during the period, 15 were captured off the east of Somalia, in and around the Arabian Sea and one in the Gulf of Aden. "In this area alone, 299 people were taken hostage and six more were kidnapped from their vessel," he said, adding that at the last count on March 31, IMB figures showed that Somali pirates were holding captive 596 crew members on 28 ships. He noted that there were also a dramatic increase in violence and techniques used by pirates in the seas off Somalia. "The overwhelming number of vessels hijacked off Somalia took place east and northeast of the Gulf of Aden.

The positions of some of the attackers' mother ships are known. It is vital that strong action is taken against these mother ships to prevent further hijackings," he said. Mukundan also said that large tankers carrying oil and other flammable chemicals were particularly vulnerable to firearms attacks. "Three big tankers of over 100,000 tonnes deadweight had been hijacked off the Horn of Africa this year. Of a total of 97 vessels attacked in this region, 37 were tankers and of these, 20 had a deadweight of more that 100,000 tonnes," he said. Elsewhere, he said the Indian navy captured 61 Somalia pirates on a hijacked ship off India's west coast, while Nigeria recorded five incidents with three attacks against vessels in Lagos. "Crews in the area are reporting increased violence, including one incident where all 27 crew members were injured. "IMB's concern about an expansion of Nigeria-style piracy has been heightened by the hijacking of a chemical tanker off neighbouring Benin, which its captors finally directed to Lagos," he said. Source: Bernama