Merchant vessel under attack, Bunga Terminal, Nigeria

Warning 004/MAR/2017 

Category: Attack in progress

Description: On 291250ZMAR17 Merchant vessel is under attack in PSN 04°08.0N 004°40.00E (BUNGA TERMINAL NIGERIA). Vessels transiting the area are advised to exercise extreme caution. 

Source: Reported to MDAT-GoG via telephone. 

Any queries regarding this Warning Notice ring 0033 298 22 88 88 for further

information.

MDAT-GOG Watchkeeper

Email: watchkeepers@mdat-gog.org

Emergency Tel: +33(0) 298 22 88 88

Ivory Coast rescinds port security measures, attack threat unfounded

Ivory Coast rescinded an order on Sunday to increase security at its two main ports after determining that an earlier reported threat of terrorism was unfounded, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The first transport ministry memorandum had ordered security under the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code to be increased to level two due to “probable terrorist attacks” on Ivory Coast’s national territory.

It comes a year after al Qaeda militants stormed the Ivory Coast beach resort of Grand Bassam, gunning down swimmers and sunbathers in an attack that killed 19 people.

The ports of Abidjan and San Pedro are both important hubs for West African imports and exports, notably of cocoa. Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest cocoa producer.

Source: Reuters

 

Kenyan forces kill 31 al Shabaab militants in Somalia

Kenyan troops in Somalia killed 31 Islamist al Shabaab militants in a raid on two of their bases in the southern Somali region of Jubbaland, the Kenyan military said on Monday.

The East African nation has thousands of its forces in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to help curb al Shabaab and improve security as part of a reconstruction drive after two decades of civil war that shattered the country.

“Ground troops were supported by attack helicopters and artillery fire,” the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) said in a statement about Sunday’s raid on al Shabaab bases in the Baadhade district of Jubbaland.

Al Shabaab was not available immediately for a comment.

Kenyan forces also captured arms, including 11 AK-47 assault rifles, communications equipment and uniforms, the KDF said.

Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 after a series of attacks on Kenyan soil by the al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab.

Source: Reuters

Hijacked dhow released

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) issued an update to a previous advisory noticed yesterday stating that the recently hijacked dhow had been released. The Casayr II was taken on Friday 24th March and was believed to be operating as a mothership off Socotra Island which was the scene of another piracy incident two weeks ago.

The dhow was released after the pirates took one skiff, food and diesel.

Full update below:

ADVISORY NOTICE 005/MAR/2017 UPDATE 4 

Category: HIJACK 

Description: UKMTO has received further information on Hijacked Dhow: CASAYR II – No.30.
Position: 70nms from Qalansyia, Socotra Island. Position Unknown (Prob. Socotra GAP).
Info: The dhow has been released by the pirates after taking one skiff, food and diesel. The whereabouts of the Pirates is UNKNOWN. 

Source: Phone call received by UKMTO 261042ZMAR17. 

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.

Kenya to Reopen Border With Somalia

The Kenyan government says it will open the border with Somalia to boost trade and allow the flow of people between the two countries. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta also pledged to help Somalia in the fight against al-Shabab militants and support and train government workers. His remarks followed a meeting he had in Nairobi with his Somali counterpart, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.

Despite the optimism expressed by the two leaders, the threat of Somali militant group al-Shabab exists, and both countries have reaffirmed their commitment to defeating the organization.

Kenya has also had issues with Somali refugees living at the Dadaab refugee camp, in the northeast of the country. The east African nation plans to close the refugee camp, the world’s largest, by the end of May, but, in what some say might be a change of heart, Kenyatta says his government will build a training institute at the camp to educate high school graduates.

Full Article: VOA News

Latest hijacked vessel is small fishing trawler

Police say Somali pirates have seized a fishing trawler owned by a local businessman and forced the mostly foreign crew to disembark.

“We understand that pirates hijacked the fishing vessel to hijack a big ship off the ocean,” said Abdirahman Mohamud, head of maritime police forces in the semi-autonomous Puntland region.

“They dropped its 10 Yemeni crew and a Somali guard inland and disappeared with the boat together with the food, cook, captain and engineer,” he told Reuters.

Residents of the northern Somali city of Eyl confirmed to Reuters that pirates from their village had gone to seek potential targets.

It is likely that the trawler will be used as a mother ship to launch smaller skiffs in international waters and could target merchant vessels transiting the Indian Ocean High Risk Area.

This is the second hijacking of a vessel off the coast of the semi-autonomous Puntland region this month following the Aris 13.

It is advised that vessels transiting this area adhere to BMP 4 measures and maintain 24 hour watches.

Intelligence Comment:

This is a very dangerous situation. The vessel is more than likely to be one of a dhow variety which means that the pirates can operate at a greater range.

All vessels transiting in the Indian Ocean HRA region will need to increase vigilance and monitor all reports from the UKMTO/MSCHOA as to the description of this vessel.

Another known pirate tactic is “leap frogging” where the Pirate Attack Group (PAG) will attack another Dhow once in the open seas and use this as a mother ship.

UKMTO Advisory Notice – Possible Hijack

ADVISORY NOTICE 005/MAR/2017 

Category: POSSIBLE HIJACK 

Description: Reports have been received that an MV has possibly been hijacked in vicinity of EYL, SOMALIA and is possibly heading to sea for use as a Mother Ship. Description of vessel unknown at this time. 

Source: Email received by UKMTO 240851ZMAR17. 

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.

Air strike kills 42 refugees off Yemen Coast

Forty-two Somali refugees were killed when a helicopter gunship attacked their boat off Yemen on Thursday, the United Nations refugee agency said, and Somalia called on the Saudi-led coalition fighting in the country to investigate.

“We do not know who carried it out but survivors said they came under attack from another boat at 9 p.m., the crew used lights and shouted to signal this is a civilian boat,” ICRC spokeswoman Iolanda Jaquemet said.

“Nevertheless, it did not have any effect and a helicopter joined in the attack,” she said.

Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Abdusalam Hadliye Omar expressed sorrow at what he described as a “horrific attack”.

“It is very sad to target a boat carrying Somali migrants near the coast of Hodeidah in Yemen,” he said in a statement. “We call on our partners in the Saudi-led coalition to investigate the raid.”

Source: Reuters

Aris 13 Hijack – Vessel and Crew Safe

All eight crew members on board the Hijacked Aris 13 have been released late last night, according to the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and EUNAVFOR.

Intelligence Comment

Pirate networks have been significantly destroyed over the years through international efforts and countermeasures. Coupled with the lengthy ransom negotiations and falling ransom prices, the pirate networks finances took a hit.

Given these factors, the hijacking of the Aris 13 may not signal a return of the larger threat of piracy in the region, but it will be interesting to see whether there is an uptick in hijacking attempts in the short term given that the pirates were able to leave the ship without any arrest.

 

The EU Naval Force (Somalia) can confirm that fuel tanker Aris 13 and her crew are now en route to a safe port on the north coast of Somalia after armed pirates, who had been holding the crew since Monday 13 March 2017, departed the ship. The master confirmed that his crew had suffered no injuries during their 4-day ordeal.

It is understood that members of the Puntland Maritime Police Force assisted with the ship’s release and are currently on board.

EUNAVFOR

 

(PRESS RELEASE) – The Ministry is pleased to announce that the vessel ‘Aris 13’ that was hijacked by pirates was released late last night/ early this morning (16-17 March Sri Lankan time) along with the eight Sri Lankan crew. The crew members were released unharmed, without the payment of a ransom.

The Ministry wishes to express its deep appreciation on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, to the President of Puntland, the semi-autonomous region of Somalia, and his Chief of Staff Abdinasir Sofe, who cooperated and collaborated with the relevant officials of the Government of Sri Lanka in securing the release of the vessel and crew. This task would not have been made possible without their unstinted and active effort.

The Government of Sri Lanka also expresses its gratitude to the Government of the United States of America, the Ambassador of the United States of America in Sri Lanka, the Combined Naval Force in Bahrain, the EU, and all other Governments, Organisations and individuals who extended their assistance in this effort, as well as all local Ministries, Departments, and individuals.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka
Colombo
17 March 2017

 

Somali force and pirates aboard hijacked vessel exchange fire

Somali maritime forces have exchanged gunfire with the hijackers of an oil tanker in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, the head of the maritime force said on Thursday.

The incident raised fears that hostages could have been hurt in the crossfire.

This is the first time Somali pirates have taken over a commercial ship since 2012 and locals blame the attack on foreign fishermen flooding into their waters. The Somalis are also angry with their government for licensing some of the ships.

“We tried to intercept a boat that was carrying supplies to the pirates, but pirates on the ship fired on us and so the pirate boat escaped,” said Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, the director general of the maritime force in Puntland.

“We shall kill the crew if Puntland forces fire on us again,” pirate Abdullahi told Reuters.

Residents near the ship, which was hijacked on Monday with eight Sri Lankan crew aboard, said four civilians were injured by stray bullets from the fight.

“My brother called and said the coast guards have surrounded the area where they have been held and asked them to leave,” the brother of one hostage, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters by phone from Colombo.

But attacks fell sharply after crews put safety measures into place and regional naval forces stepped up patrols. Some pirates returned to fishing, and others became involved in smuggling people and weapons.

Source: Reuters

Intelligence Comment

The maritime police force (PMPF) are not attempting to re-take the ship from the pirates, but interdict the supply boat.

The coast guard have been negotiating with the pirates to release the crew unconditionally. The vessel was not registered with the MSCHO or the UKMTO.

The AIS is still intermittently pinging, which suggests the pirates are fairly novice as they would turn the AIS if they were more competent.

The owners of the vessel have confirmed they have talked to the crew who are safe but under armed guard and that NO negotiations have taken place.