Global Maritime Security: November 2014
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Below are some exerpts from the Allmode Global Security Report November 2014. Read the full report here
JWC High Risk Area (HRA)
The JWC High Risk Area (HRA) is defined by the following boundaries:
On the North-West, by the Red Sea, south of Latitude 15°00 N
On the West of the Gulf of Oman by Longitude 58°00 E
On the East, Longitude 78°00E
On the South, Latitude 12°00 S
Summary of Incidents November 2014
1. 03/11/14 – (Position: 13°30’N - 050°6’E, Gulf of Aden) Suspicious approach. A vessel reported the sighting of x 1 Dhow towing x 3 skiffs. The vessel reporting is safe.
2. 03/11/14 – (Position: 13°35’N - 050°19’E, Gulf of Aden) Suspicious approach. A vessel reported being passed astern by x 1 vessel towing x 3 skiffs at a distance of 4nm. Vessel reporting is safe.
3. 07/11/14 – (Position: 13°15’N - 049°03’E, Gulf of Aden) Suspicious approach. A vessel transiting IRTC west bound reported x 2 white-hulled skiffs with orange canvas covering, each carrying x 6 POB, approached at 15 knots to within 2 cables. Vessel altered course and skiffs followed. AST displayed weapons and skiffs discontinued approach. Vessel and crew safe.
4. 07/11/14 – (Position: 03°70’S - 052°29’E,Indian Ocean) Suspicious approach. A vessel reported being followed by a blue and white trawler. The trawler increased speed and closed from 12 to 6nm before steering in the direction of another vessel. Vessel and crew are safe.
5. 09/11/14 – (Position: 12°36’N - 043°25’E, Gulf of Aden) Suspicious Approach. A vessel has reported it was approached at speed to within 100m by two skiffs. Each skiff had 2 POB. No weapons or ladders were sighted. The vessel’s AST showed arms and the skiffs turned away.The vessel is safe. Vessel announced incident via ch16.
6. 11/11/14 – (Position: Bab el Mandeb/Red Sea entrance) Attempted attack. An attempt by Somali pirates to hijack a cargo ship en-route to Israel was thwarted by armed Israeli security guards on board. The ZIM shipping company ship, which set sail from southeastern Asia a few days earlier, was carrying trade items destined for Israel when Somali pirates began to sail close to it near the entrance to the Red Sea, at the Strait of Bab el Mandeb. The pirates headed to the ship and when they noticed the armed Israeli security guards on board, they retreated and called for reinforcements. After the pirates made a second attempt the guards threatened to use their weapons. After the pirate ships made a second attempt to get closer to the vessel, the Israeli
security guards threatened to use their weapons.At this point the pirates decided to retreat and no weapons were used. Ship and crew are safe.
7. 12/11/14 – (Position: 13°26’N - 050°07’E, Gulf of Aden) Suspicious Approach. A vessel reports 5 skiffs approaching from ahead at 1nm and one skiff with 5 POB astern at 1nm. No weapons or ladders were sighted. Weapons were shown by on board AST and the skiffs backed off.
8. 16/11/14 – (Position: 12°20’N - 44°58’E, Gulf of Aden) Suspicious Approach. One skiff approached a vessel from port beam at a speed of 20kts. The skiff continued approaching port quarter to 2.9nm and proceeded to starboard quarter to 3nm. The skiff continued approach for approx 2 hrs, The AST showed weapons, the ship’s alarm and fire hoses were activated. The skiff discontinued its approach and stopped at 9.8 cables. No weapons/ladders were sighted and x 4 POB. The skiff was blue in colour.
9. 18/11/14 – (Position: 14°23’N - 042°09’E, Red Sea) Suspicious Approach. A vessel was approached by x 2 skiffs to 0.5nm at 20kts, x 7 POB, no weapons/ladders were sighted. The AST showed their weapons and the skiffs discontinued the approach.
10. 21/11/14 – (Position:25°37’N - 057°18’E, Gulf of Oman) Suspicious Approach. a vessel was a vessel was followed and approached over a period of two hours by x 2 green-hulled skiffs, each carrying x 3 POB wearing face masks, approached to within 3 cables before eventually turning away. No weapons or ladders were seen. Vessel,and crew are safe.
11. 22/11/14 – (Position: 13°28’N - 049° 51’E, Gulf of Aden) Suspicious Approach. A MVreported that x 3 speedboats and a fishing trawler approached the vessel to within 10m. The vessel conducted evasive manoeuvres, after which the boats and trawler steered away. A verbal warning was made on Ch16 to other vessels in the vicinity. No weapons or ladders were sighted.
12. 24/11/14 – (Position: 19°40’60”N - 064°42’94”E, Arabian Sea) Suspicious Approach. A suspicious vessel was seen on the radar at 5.7nm on port beam. No AIS identification was seen on the radar. The suspicious vessel was next seen at 3.7nm astern. The suspicious vessel had a white hull with an orange band. Unable to see how many POB , no weapons or ladders seen. The suspicious vessel followed the MV matching its speed for 45mins. MV is safe.
13. 24/11/14 - (Position: 13°08’1”N - 043°04’0”E, Red Sea) Suspicious Approach. A motor vessel was approached by eight white and blue hulled skiffs at a closing speed of 28-30 Knots each with 4 POB and a ladder sighted on one of the skiffs. The MV activated the fire hoses, carried out evasive manoeuvres and alerted other vessels in the vicinity on VHF. At 3 cables distance from the MV, the skiffs turned away from the vessel. This approach lasted 20 minutes. The MV is safe
14. 25/11/14 - (Position:13°46’N – 050°40’E, Gulf of Aden) Suspicious Approach. The Master of a Motor Vessel (MV) reported being approached by 6 small crafts travelling at speed with a CPA 2.5nm. No weapons/ladders were sighted. The Armed Security Team (AST) on board stood too and made their presence known. The MV increased speed and conducted evasive manoeuvres. Upon seeing the AST the skiffs dropped back and the vessel is SAFE.
15. 26/11/14 – (Position: Gulf of Oman) Suspicious Activity. An Iranian Warship has advised all vessels to avoid the triangular area between
a) 25°18N - 59°47E , b) 24°34N - 59°32E, c) 25°19N - 60°06E. due to suspicious activity. This was announced via VHF CH 16.
16. 25/11/14 – (Position: Kochi anchorage, India.) Boarding. Five robbers in two speed boats approached and boarded an anchored Product Tanker. They broke into the paint store and stole ship’s stores. The duty crew noticed the robbers and informed the duty officer. The alarm was raised and the crew were mustered. Upon hearing the alarm, the robbers escaped in their boats with the stolen stores. The Port Control relayed the incident report to the Coast Guard and Coastal
17. 26/11/14 - (Positon: 13°25’N - 050°02’E, Gulf of Aden) Suspicious Vessel. The Master of an MV reported sighting a Dhow towing 4 skiffs in position 13°25’N - 050°02E at a distance of 3nm. The Master was unable to confirm the number of persons on board (POB), whether a ladder or weapons were present, due to the distance, but described the Dhow as white with a brown top. Of the four skiffs two were brown and two were blue. The vessel continued safely.
18. 28/11/14 – (Position: 04°25’S - 046°15’E, Indian Ocean) Suspicious Vessel. An MV reported being chased/followed by a suspicious vessel off their starboard quarter in POSN 04°25’S - 046°15’E. Initially the vessel was stopped with all lights switched off, described as being white in colour and had a small speed boat hanging on a crane. Subsequently the suspicious vessel followed for 15-20 minutes. The Master used evasive manoeuvres, until the suspicious vessel was at a distance of 7nm, when it then stopped following. The AST on board, vessel and crew are SAFE.
The number of incidents in this months report may be slightly higher than previous months, as the UKMTO are trailing a new system for the next three months, whereby the UKMTO will be passing on advisories from Masters/CSO’s and industry representatives. Many of these have been reports of Suspicious approaches and although these can be significant and in many cases examples of soft approaches to determine the level of security on a vessel, some will simply be the usual fishing activity and migration pattern that the region experiences.
It is therefore a system that relies on experience and understanding of the region and relies on individual teams determining if the approach was with malice intentions. Nevertheless, it could be argued that over reporting is preferable to under-reporting and the increased cooperation of Masters and CSO’s is welcomed. In the light of this, the UKMTO issued a reminder about the usual fishing patterns for the region, to help teams make informed decisions. This clearly shows the relationship between the cluster of suspicious approaches and the Socotra fishing ground and the migratory and transit routes.
Instability in the region continues to blight any progress in both Somalia and Yemen. The internal bickering between the Somali President and the Prime Minister may undermine the efforts to develop the country, under the Vision 2016 programme and could cause the country to become lawless again, leaving the way open for terrorist groups such as Al- Shabaab to extend their operations within and outside of Somalia. A vote of no confidence has been called for in the Prime Minister, Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, for the next parliamentary meeting in early December. The United Nations and the European Union are watching carefully, as this situation develops.
Al-Shabaab has been particularly active this month, particularly along the border between Kenya and Somalia. Attacks against non-Muslims have killed 64 people in the last two weeks. The first attack near in Mandera county, near the border with Somalia, where a bus was stopped and all non-Muslims ordered off and shot (28). The latest incident involved workers at a mine, also in the Mandera county, where non-Muslim workers were rounded up and either shot in the back of the head or beheaded. Many have fleed the area in fear and demonstrations have been held in the capital Nairobi calling for improvements to be made regarding security.
The Kenyan government has responded by replacing the Interior Minister, Joseph Loe Lenku with a former army general, Joseph Nkaissery. This makes Kenyan relationships with Somalia very tense and further attacks may be possible and cause a more aggressive response. It has also notably weakened the Kenyan government, who are being reactive rather than proactive to terrorist groups, dividing the country.
Yemen is also facing a crossroads, as the Shia Houti rebels, allied with Iran, took control of Sanaa in September and have continued to spread across the country, clashing violently with Sunni tribesman and the Yemen local branch of al-Qaeda.
These clashes have escalated towards the end of the month and have involved targeting key personnel, such as the Iranian Ambassador and bombing of strategically important oil pipelines, such as the main export Marib pipeline, which runs to the Red Sea export terminal at Ras Isa. Given the growing instability and severity of attacks between the two feuding groups, it would not be advisable for any vessel to disembarking in Yemen.
To help stabilise the maritime situation in the region, the Council has extended the EU’s counterpiracy Operation Atalanta by two more years, until 12th December 2016. The Operation’s main focus is the protection of World Food Programme vessels delivering humanitarian aid to Somalia; and the deterrence, repression and disruption of piracy off the Somali coast. In addition, Operation Atalanta contributes to the monitoring of fishing activities off the coast of Somalia.
This move recognises the fact that although the number of piracy attacks has decreased, the threat from piracy remains and needs to be addressed at whatever cost ( estimated to be €14.7 million for 2015 & 2016). Alongside this, is the increasing use of Private Armed Guards, whom have proved effective in warding off attacks. Attacks have been occurring further south in the Indian Ocean, suggesting that motherships are being used to launch attacks from further out to sea and the IMB has has voiced its concern about the remaining 30 hostages still held by Somali pirates being forgotten about and calling for their immediate release.