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 Piracy Incidents:
08.06.15 – (Position: 19°49’S - 034°50’E, Beira Port, Mozambique) Boarded. Three robbers, armed with knives, approached a berthed General Cargo ship in their small wooden boat. One of the robbers managed to board the ship and cut off a mooring rope. The duty crew tried to approach the robbers, but he was threatened with the knife. The alarm was raised and the crew mustered. Seeing the crew respond, the robbers escaped with the ship’s stores. The Port Control was informed.
15.06.15 – (Position: 24°36’N - 057°47’E, Gulf of Oman) Suspicious Approach. An MV reported that two white hulled skiffs, each with two engines, approached at high speed. One of the skiffs with two people on board closed to 1nm on the port side, the other skiff with five people on board approached to within 500m on the starboard side. The armed security team fired one warning shot at the skiff on the starboard side. Following this, both skiffs stopped their approach. No weapons or ladders were sighted. The vessel and crew are safe.
20.06.15 – (Position: 21°47’N - 060° 00’E, coast of Oman) Suspicious Approach. An MV reported being followed by 4 skiffs. The on-board armed guards showed their weapons, after the four skiffs neared to within 5 cables. Shortly after, a further six pale-coloured skiffs, with approximately three persons on-board, were observed ahead of the MV, forming a line. These skiffs passed the port side at speed, to within five cables, at which the AST showed their weapons for a second time. The skiffs then stopped in the water. No piracy equipment was spotted and the MV crew remained safe.
27.06.15 – (Position: 04°02’ S - 039°38’E, Shimanzi Oil Terminal, Mombasa, Kenya) Boarded. Robbers armed with long knives, boarded a tanker, from a boat using a hook and line. They were spotted by a duty crew, who alerted the C/O. The alarm was raised and the crew notified. The robbers proceeded to steal mooring ropes and escaped. The incident was reported to Port Control and the local agent.
Incidents this Month
The number of incidents this month is few, due to the onset of the South-West Monsoon, which starts at the beginning of June. It starts in the southern Indian Ocean and moves northwards towards the Horn of Africa. Once it has become fully established over the Somalia Basin and the North Arabian Sea, monsoon conditions persist throughout most of June and August. Winds can get up to 23-28 knots, with gusts of 35 knots. It is not uncommon to see waves of between 7-8 metres. Strong winds and high waves create a non-permissive operating environment for small crafts, hence the small number of incidents.
In the past, this has meant that shipping companies have become complacent about security, assuming that an attack is not possible. However, this month, the Kenyan Government has repatriated around seventy eight Somali pirates, who have served their jail sentences leaving only one hundred and sixty convicted pirates remaining in Kenyan prisons. This also comes at a time when support for anti-piracy initiatives and prosecution has hit an all-time low, with some suggesting that security will not be needed in the future. Security experts warn that this is a dangerous move and that the newly returned pirates will return to their trade, if the patrolling situation and the use of armed guards, was to diminish. The security situation in the region is far from stable, with attacks by al-Shabaab continuing with gusto in the capital Mogadishu. These include attacks near to foreign Embassies and on foreign convoys. Furthermore, African Union peacekeeping troops have had to withdraw from three bases outside Mogadishu, after Al Shabaab attacked one of the bases at Lego, which is 90 kilometres from the capital. In this attack, some sixty Burundian troops were killed.
June has seen the beginning of the first piracy and maritime court cases to be held at the newly established courts in the Seychelles. The first cases to be heard, concerned the trial of five suspected Somali pirates who were arrested after they were accused of attacking an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden back in January 2014. They were arrested the next day by the French naval ship, FS Siroco. The Seychelles has completed sixteen piracy trails over the last few years and this is more than any other country in the region. It is hoped that the new court will make it easier to prosecute suspected pirates, as this has become an area which needs improving, in order to deter future pirates.
On 13th June, Egypt's Suez Canal authority announced that the New Suez Canal will be inaugurated on 6th August. The project has seen the construction of a new 37 km long waterway, which will reduce the canal transit time from 22 to 11 hours, and the deepening and expansion of 35 km stretch of the current canal. The project is entering the final stage of construction now. Construction on the project began in 2014 at an estimated cost of $8 billion and the project is expected to increase annual canal revenue from USD 5.5 bn to USD 13 bn in less than a decade.
This month the UN –sponsored negotiations between the warring factions in Yemen, concluded with the failure to agree on a ceasefire and no date was set for any future talks. Therefore, the situation in and around the country remains critical and the humanitarian crisis and violence will continue unabated. This will undoubtedly impact on port operations, with many of the countries ports remaining closed, due to the worsening security situation.