Shipowners: More naval vessels by Somalia are an option

Events over recent weeks of hijackings and piracy off the coast of Somalia have once again prompted shipowners to raise the question of whether more naval vessels should be sent to the region.

In mid-March a new hijacking happened after several years without notable pirate activity, which had been diminished by a combination of navy forces in the area and a new practice among shipowners, now sailing faster and further from the coast, and additionally recruiting security guards on board as well as installing barbed wire and water canons on the rail.

Later on, fears came true as other vessels experienced hijackings. In early April, Reuters reported the hijacking of an Indian vessel where the 11 crew members were held hostage.

“The latest registered piracy activity proves that Somali based piracy was never completely defeated. That was also one of the reasons for EU to extend the mandate of Operation ATALANTA until December 2018. We think it is important that the current situation is monitored closely and addressed timely, so we don’t see a recurrence of the piracy activity we saw years back,” says Secretary General for the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA), Patrick Verhoeven, in a comment to ShippingWatch.

Via Shipping Watch, full article here.

EU calls for renewed efforts to battle resurgent piracy off Somalia

The resurgent piracy attacks off the vast Somali coastline is a result of the growing insecurity in the Horn of Africa region, which calls for renewed security partnership to defeat, a commander of an international naval task force against piracy told Xinhua.

Commander Jacqui Sheriff, Spokesperson for the European Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) operating off the Somali coastline to deter piracy along the Indian Ocean coastline and in the Gulf of Aden, said pirates have felt the need to return to sea in the middle of heightened insecurity in recent months.

Via CoastNews, full article here.

Drought-hit Somalia moves closer to famine, says aid group

Mogadishu –  Life-threatening child malnutrition rates are rising to alarming levels in drought-hit Somalia, the international aid group Save the Children said on Thursday.

A new survey found “very critical” levels of severe malnutrition in two of six districts assessed in some of the worst affected parts of Somalia.

The drought has left 6.2 million people – more than half of the population of Somalia – in need of immediate lifesaving assistance and a further 8.3 million in Kenya and Ethiopia are also need of urgent help, he said.

Via news24, full article here.

UKMTO Attack update: Crew and vessel safe

ADVISORY NOTICE 005/APR/ 2017

1.         Category: ATTACK

2.         Description: Ref Warning 002 APR 17.  Vessel and crew are now SAFE. MV was approached in psn 15-55.8N 052-20.7E by a small boat with 6-7 armed POB and attempted to board MV several times with no success. Shots were fired towards MV and then small boat departed area, no casualties or damage was observed.

3.         Source: Reported to UKMTO by Master via telephone at 0645 UTC

4.         Any queries regarding this Advisory Notice ring 0044 2392 222060 only for further information.

UKMTO Attack Warning

WARNING-WARNING-WARNING

WARNING – 002 APR 2017 –

At 140652 APR 17 UTC UKMTO received a confirmed report that a vessel was under ATTACK and shots have been fired towards MV in position 15-55.5N 052-20.7E.

Further details will follow, UKMTO are Investigating.

Vessels transiting the area are advised to exercise extreme caution.

Somali Pirates Back in Business?

Lawlessness onshore is fueling a resurgence of crime on the high seas.

In the past month, there have been six suspected piracy incidents near Somalia, five of them successful, including three in the last week. That’s compared with zero successful attacks in 2016.

Three more murky maritime incidents off the coast of Somalia’s Galmudug state, where suspected illegal fishing vessels paid “fines” that may in fact have been ransoms, suggest that piracy has rebounded on a scale even larger than previously reported.

The spike in banditry on the high seas off the Horn is a blow to the decades-long battle to stem piracy there, and bad news for the international shipping industry, which transports $700 billion worth of cargo through the dangerous corridor each year. It’s also a stark reminder that one of the main drivers of piracy, rampant illegal fishing that depletes local fish stocks and drives some fishermen to take up arms, remains as big a problem as ever.

The resurgence of piracy in the Horn of Africa’s busy transport corridor comes when both anti-piracy forces and shipping companies have let down their guard. A NATO naval force pulled out of the Horn in December, citing the decline in pirate attacks, though a European Union force remains. Lawellin said that many cargo ships plying Somalia’s waters have also stopped taking basic precautionary measures, such as hiring armed guards on their ships and sailing at higher speeds farther from shore.

“As piracy declined, the use of these threat mitigation measures also declined,” Lawellin said. “The opportunity for pirates to hijack vessels is still present, and it appears that some still possess the capability and intent to venture out to sea in search of targets.”

The continued threat also reflects the fact that little has been done to address what is often cited as the root of piracy in Somalia: illegal fishing by foreign vessels, which Somali fishermen say drives them to take up arms to protect their shoreline. The international navies, which deployed to the region in 2008 amid rapidly escalating pirate attacks, have a U.N. mandate to stop hijackings, but they are not empowered to block the foreign fishing fleets that contribute to the underlying economic problem.

Full Article Via foreignpolicy.com

Egypt declares state of emergency after deadly church attacks

Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has announced a three-month state of emergency after attacks on two Coptic churches left at least 44 dead.

The state of emergency allows the authorities to make arrests without warrants and search people’s homes. However ,the measure has yet to be passed and approved by parliament.

So-called Islamic State (IS) said it was behind the blasts in Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday.

The group has targeted Copts in Egypt recently and warns of more attacks.

Mr Sisi made a defiant speech at the presidential palace after a meeting of the national defence council to discuss the explosions.

He warned that the war against the jihadists would be “long and painful”, and said that the state of emergency would come into force after all “legal and constitution steps” were taken. The majority in parliament backs Mr Sisi.

Full Story Via BBC

Pakistani cargo vessel hijacked off El Hur, Somalia

Unconfirmed media reports suggest that on Monday 3rd April (2017), pirates hijacked a Pakistani cargo vessel carrying food, Salama 1, soon after seizing an Indian-owned boat, MSV Al Kausar. Reports suggest the Dhow is in the vicinity of El Hur and was en-route to Kismayo.

Intelligence Comment: The mayor of Hobyo, a town on the central Somali coast, has told regional media sources that the Salama 1 was reportedly headed to the area with an unknown number of crew. The former director of intelligence in Somalia’s Puntland region, Abdi Hassan Hussein, believes that piracy is re-emerging in the region and suggests there are organised groups in advanced preparations to conduct attacks, “ There are more than eight groups who are want to engage piracy activities, some of them already went into the sea, some are in preparation and some have already carried out attacks,”.

Hussein believes Yemenis are involved in piracy, supplying the Somali pirates with logistics such as vessels, weapons, ammunition, GPS, fuel and engines. He said the Yemenis who are helping the Somali pirates are taking advantage of the chaos in their own country, but that they are not conducting the operations just facilitating them.

UKMTO Advisory – Suspicious Approach by 6 skiffs in Bab-el-Mandeb

ADVISORY NOTICE 002/APR 2017 

Category: SUSPICIOUS APPROACH.

Description: On 03 April at 0530 UTC in position LAT 1310N LONG 04303E, an MV reported being approached by 6 light blue coloured skiffs with 5 POB on each skiff. Ladders and hooks were sighted. Vessel raised the alarm and armed guards took up position on bridge wings. After 2 – 3 minutes the suspicious skiffs left. MV IS

Source: Reported to UKMTO by vessel via EMAIL at 0756UTC 

Any queries regarding this Advisory Notice ring 0044 2392 222060 only for further information.

THIS ADVISORY is not Classified as a Maritime Security Event and has not been verified by UK MTO. This information is provided to inform maritime situational awareness for mariners operating in the region. UKMTO is not responsible for the accuracy of this reporting.

Dhow hijacked off Socotra – UKMTO Advisory Warning

ADVISORY NOTICE 

ADVISORY NOTICE 001/APR/ 2017 

Category: HIJACK 

Description: UKMTO has received information that a Dhow has been hijacked on route from Dubai to Bossaso, in the vicinity of Socotra. Investigations are ongoing. 

Source: MRCC MUMBAI 

Any queries regarding this Advisory Notice ring 0044 2392 222060 only for further information.

THIS ADVISORY is not Classified as a Maritime Security Event and has not been verified by UK MTO. This information is provided to inform maritime situational awareness for mariners operating in the region. UKMTO is not responsible for the accuracy of this reporting.