Sunday, 31 July 2011

COUNTER-PIRACY UPDATES



STATUS OF SEIZED VESSELS AND CREWS IN SOMALIA, THE GULF OF ADEN  AND THE INDIAN OCEAN (ecoterra - 30. July 2011)

PROTECTING AND MONITORING LIFE, BIODIVERSITY AND THE ECOSYSTEM IN SOMALIA AND ITS SEAS SINCE 1986 - ECOTERRA Intl.
ECOTERRA Intl. and ECOP-marine serve concerning the counter-piracy issues as advocacy groups in their capacity as human rights, marine and maritime monitors as well as in co-operation with numerous other organizations, groups and individuals as information clearing-house. In difficult cases we have successfully served as mediators.

DECLARE INTERDEPENDENCE


STATUS-SUMMARY:

Today, 30. July 2011 at 19h45 UTC, at least 34 larger plus 18 smaller foreign vessels plus one stranded barge are kept in Somali hands against the will of their owners, while at least 593 hostages or captives - including a South-African yachting couple as well as a Danish yacht-family with three children and two friends - suffer to be released.
But even EU NAVFOR, who mostly only counts high-value, often British insured vessels, admitted now that many dozens of vessels were sea-jacked despite their multi-million Euro efforts to protect shipping.
Having come under pressure, EU NAVFOR's operation ATALANTA felt now compelled to publish their updated piracy facts for those vessels, which EU NAVFOR admits had not been protected from pirates and were abducted. EU NAVFOR also admitted in February 2011 for the first time that actually a larger number of vessels and crews is held hostage than those listed on their file.
Since EU NAVFOR's inception at the end of 2008 the piracy off Somalia started in earnest and it has now completely escalated. Only knowledgeable analysts recognized the link.

Please see the
situation map of the PIRACY COASTS OF SOMALIA (2011) and the CPU-ARCHIVE
ECOTERRA members can also request the Somali Marine & Coastal Monitor for background info.

- see also HELD HOSTAGE BY PIRATES OFF SOMALIA

and don't forget that SOMALI PIRACY IS CUT-THROAT CAPITALISM

WHAT THE NAVIES OFF SOMALIA NEVER SEE:
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/05/fighting_for_control_of_somali.html

What Foreign Soldiers in Somalia and even their Officers Never Seem to Realize:
The Scramble For Somalia

PEACE KEEPERS OR BIOLOGICAL WARFARE AGENTS ?
SG Ban Ki-Moon (UN) and President Ram Baran Yadav (Nepal) should resign and take the responsibility for 4,500 Haitians having been killed by a Cholera strain introduced by unchecked, so-called UN Peace-Keepers from Nepal into Haiti.

LATEST:

STILL ALMOST 600 SEAFARERS ARE HELD HOSTAGE IN SOMALIA !
ECOTERRA Intl. has been the first group to clearly and publicly state that the piracy phenomenon off the Somali coasts can only become an issue of the past again, if tangible and sustainable, appropriate and holistic development for the coastal communities kicks in.
Solutions to piracy have to tackle the root causes: Abhorrent poverty, environmental degradation, injustice, outside interference. While still billions are spend for the navies, for the general militarization or for mercenaries or conferences, still no real and financially substantial help is coming forward to pacify and develop the coastal areas of Somalia.
Updates on known cases of piracy  - pls see also below this latest news in the status section.

MV HOANG SON SUN :
On 28. July 2011 a report sent by a human rights monitor on a routine proof of life mission, spoke of now only 22 crew members on board of the
Mongolian flagged and Vietnamese owned vessel. Though local rumours say that the sailors were killed, It is so far not clearly known if the 2 missing seamen died or are held elsewhere.
However, the situation is worrisome, because apparently no real efforts are made to free the all-Vietnamese crew.


©2011 - ecoterra / ecop-marine - articles above are exclusive reports and, if not specifically ©-marked, free for publication as long as cited correctly and the source is quoted.
The maritime articles below are cleared or commented. If you don't find a specific article, it most likely was not worth to be republished here, but if you feel we have overlooked an important publication, please mail it to us.

What you always wanted to know about piracy, but never dared to ask:
SEARCH THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE INTERNET PORTAL ON PIRACY


Small Emirati tanker, crew nabbed by pirates freed By Adam Schreck (bloomberg)
Seventeen crew members of a small Emirati oil tanker captured by pirates this month off the coast of Somalia have been freed unharmed along with the ship, the vessel's manager said Thursday.
The MV Jubba XX was reported captured on July 16 as it made its way from Umm al-Quwain in the United Arab Emirates to the port of Berbera in the breakaway northern Somali province of Somaliland.
Omar al-Khair, general manager of Emirates International Shipping, the ship's manager, told The Associated Press the tanker was freed late Wednesday following negotiations involving Somali tribal elders and government officials in Puntland, a semiautonomous northern region neighboring Somaliland.
"They were very helpful and very cooperative," he said of the Puntland officials. "This is good news, really."
No ransom was paid, though pirates did steal money, clothes and other belongings from the crew, al-Khair said. The brigands also made off with the vessel's satellite phones and other communications equipment, leaving the crew with just a regular Somali mobile phone, he said.
An official working for ship owner Jubba General Trading Co., Sayyad Alawi, confirmed the tanker had been freed.
The UAE-flagged Jubba XX was carrying less than 4,000 tons of refined fuel when it was hijacked off the coast of Mukalla, Yemen. Al-Khair said its crew included four Somalis, along with sailors from Sri Lanka, India, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Sudan, Bangladesh.
It is expected to dock later Thursday in the Somali port of Bosasso before continuing its journey to Berbera, al-Khair said.
Piracy has grown in recent years off the coast of war-ravaged Somalia, which is now being gripped by a devastating drought. The Horn of Africa nation has not had a functioning central government for more than 20 years.
BACKGROUND: (ecop-marine)
MT JUBBA XX : Seized July 16, 2011. The UAE and partly Somali-owned and UAE flagged,  petroleum products tanker MT JUBBA XX (IMO 7916260) was captured at 07h42 UTC (09h42 local time) on 16 July 2011 approximately 220nm northwest of Socotra Island at the very tip of the Horn of Africa, NATO reported. The relatively small, 4833 dwt tanker is reportedly fully laden.
EU NAVFOR Cmdr. Harrie Harrison told AP the vessel was en route from the United Arab Emirates to the port of Berbera in Somaliland, the breakaway Northwestern Somali state and self-declared republic. Later EU NAVFOR stated that the vessel's owner actually had reported her abduction in time, though only on 17. July at NATO released the alert officially. The vessel was not registered with MSCHOA at the time of the pirating.
Officials in Berbera stated that a vessel managed and owned by Jubba General Trading Company from Sharjah, named MT JUBBA, was expected. The vessel is apparently operated in the moment by Red Sea Shipping company, but managed by Emirates Shipping Company in Umm al Qaiwain. Local observers in that Gulf of Aden harbour, who are familiar with the regular trader operating under a flag from the United Arab Emirates, said that the crew usually consists of seamen from Asian Nations, but also additional Somali seafarers were said to be part of this crew.
This was then confirmed by different sources and it was then established by the vessel owner that the crew comprises of 17 seafarers. Under the captain from Sri Lanka serve
5 Indians, 4 Somalis, 3 Bangladeshi as well as 1 Ethiopian, 1 Sudanese, 1 Kenyan and 1 Burmese from Myanmar.
Little information is available at present about the condition of the crew. Reportedly 9 suspected Somali pirates commandeer the MV JUBBA XX and hold the crew hostage.
Officials from the owner as well as the managers have not been able to make contact with the ship since it was hijacked, reported The National on 19. July.
“We called all day and got no response,” Omar Alkheir, the general manager of Emirates Shipping, told the UAE newspaper. The MV Jubba XX is the first Jubba General Trading ship to be hijacked, the company’s managing director Abdi Ali Farah said. The firm has nine employees and owns two oil tankers and three cargo vessels (i.a. AL SEINEYA XX and FAL XX), which usually travel to the Somali ports of Mogadishu, Bossaso and Berbera. 
The vessel was captured by the group of sea-shifta just four hours after they had staged an unsuccessful attack on a larger merchant vessel, which was successfully repulsed by the guards on the ship, while the crew hid in the strong-room.
Why the navies didn't draw closer to that location after the first attack, was not explained. Reportedly the earlier sea-jacked MV AL-NASR (AKA Al-NASIR, AL-NISAR or ALISHAM) loaded with livestock and captured after leaving Bossaso harbour was used in the attack. The Indian owned but UAE flagged vessel was then released by the pirates and was said by a website to proceed to the UAE, but was not expected there.
While most sources counted 16 crew, Omar al-Khair, general manager of the Emirates International Shipping, the vessel's manager, told The Associated Press there were 17 crew on board the United Arab Emirates-flagged MV Jubba XX. Besides the Sri Lankan captain, he said crew members were from India, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Sudan, Bangladesh and Somalia.
"I'm expecting it to get released easy ... because there are Somalis" on board, he said. There have been no demands for ransom yet, he said.

At 08h13 UTC (11h13 local time) on 17 July 2011 the MT JUBBA was observed by naval patrol aircraft around 100nm off Socotra Island at position 13 48 N and  051 25 E.
The tanker was carrying between 3,500 to 4,000 tons of refined fuel when it was hijacked, Ali Alawi, operations coordinator at Jubba General Trading Co., told AP.
The relatively old Bunker tanker, built 1979, has only a single hull and therefore did pose an immanent and grave environmental danger while in pirate hands stated ECOTERRA Intl.
The pirates on the vessel were attacked on 22. July 2011 by Puntland forces and left with the vessel from Bargaal towards Garacad but then returned to Bendar Beyla, where the ship was moored until negotiations between local businessmen and the pirates succeeded. MV Jubba XX was laden with oil worth Dh17 million.[17,000,000.00 Emirati Dirham =4,628,243.38 USD] and the pirate group made already money by refuelling MV DOVER and selling the commodity. Emirates-based International Shipping as the managers stated on 28  July 2011 that vessel was released after negotiations involving Somali tribal elders and government officials in Puntland. The owner-managers also stated that no ransom was paid, but local officials stated differently and the amount of ransom remains so far unclear. EU NAVFOR only reported what the owner told them and NATO had an eye on the movement of the vessel, which is said to be on her way to Berbera in Somaliland.
It must, however, be noted with interest how quickly vessels are released if they are even remotely related to Somali businesses, the only exemption being so far the MT SEA PRINCESS whereby even the life of one of the crew was lost. That vessel was likewise a coastal tanker but entangled in unnecessarily prolonged negotiations, while most vessel with Somali interests are freed fast in order to avert clan-warfare.
All the 17 crew-members of MT JUBBA XX are now safe.



N.B.: ACCORDING TO SURVIVING CHINESE SEAFARERS THERE WAS NO "CROSSFIRE" - JUST A STRAIGHT U.S.AMERICAN NAVAL ATTACK  - RESULTING IN THE KILLING OF THE CAPTAIN, THE WOUNDING OF TWO CHINESE SEAMEN AND THE KILLING OF SEVERAL SOMALIS. NOT EVEN THE EXACT LOCATION OF THE ATTACK WAS PROVIDED - ONLY THE POSITION WHERE NAVY SUNK THE VESSEL TOGETHER WITH THE DEAD CAPTAIN.
US regrets killing of Taiwan skipper in crossfire (AFP)
Washington 'regrets' the killing of a Taiwan skipper who died in crossfire when the US Navy attacked Somali pirates who had seized his boat, a detailed report into the incident said. The report - delivered to Taiwan's foreign ministry late on Sunday night by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) - the de facto US embassy in Taipei - described how Wu Lai-yu, captain of the 80-tonne fishing vessel Jih-Chun Tsai 68, was killed by ammunition fired from a US ship.
'As a result of its investigation, the US Naval Forces Central Command concluded that Master Wu had been killed inadvertently by ordnance fired from the SWG,' the report said. The report referred to the USS Stephen W Groves, a US frigate operating under a Nato-led counter-piracy task force during an operation on May 10, against the fishing boat. 'For over a year, the Jih-Chun Tsai 68 was used by Somali pirates to launch attacks against civilian vessels off the Horn of Africa,' it said. Members of the US operation found the body of Mr Wu in the cabin of the fishing boat and did a burial-at-sea for him on his ship which it said was 'unseaworthy after the exchange of fire and was sunk'. The report said 'the United States regrets that Master Wu was lost in the Nato effort to repress piracy off the Horn of Africa. We again express our condolences to the family of Master Wu Lai-yu.' Taiwan's foreign ministry, upset that it was not immediately notified of the skipper's death and the sinking of his boat, had earlier requested a US explanation about the incident. The AIT has been authorised by the US government to handle civil exchanges with Taiwan after Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.

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Iranian Navy frees Hoda cargo ship in successful anti-piracy operation (IRNA)
The Iranian Navy fleet have saved Iranian Hoda cargo ship against a pirate attack in the Bab-el-Mandeb StraitIn the 18th such successful anti-piracy operation this year, designated as the `Year of Economic Jihad’ by Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the Iranian naval forces managed to kill one of the pirates, forcing others to flee. The Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008, when Somali raiders hijacked the Iranian-chartered cargo ship, MV Delight, off the coast of Yemen.
According to UN Security Council resolutions, different countries can send their warships to the Gulf of Aden and coastal waters of Somalia against the pirates and even with prior notice to Somali government enter the territorial waters of that country in pursuit of Somali sea pirates.
The Gulf of Aden - which links the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea - is an important energy corridor, particularly because Persian Gulf oil is shipped to the West via the Suez Canal.

Attorney: Accused pirate unlawfully interrogated (AP)
The defense attorney for a Somali man accused of being a pirate negotiator says he was unlawfully interrogated aboard a government airplane after requesting a lawyer.
Mohammad Saaili Shibin is charged with piracy, kidnapping and weapons charges for his role in the February hijacking of a yacht off the coast of Africa that left all four Americans onboard dead.
Prosecutors say Shibin never boarded the sailing vessel Quest, but he operated from land in Somalia to determine how much the hostages could be ransomed for. He is considered the highest-ranking pirate the United States has prosecuted.
Shibin's attorney James Broccoletti wrote in a court filing Tuesday that Shibin told FBI agents he didn't want to talk with them and that any statements he gave them should be suppressed. Shibin later changed his mind, said he understood his rights and made several incriminating statements.
Among other things, court documents say Shibin acknowledged negotiating the release of a German ship and receiving a $30,000 payment for it. Court documents also say Shibin told authorities he may have been approached to negotiate the release of the four Americans because he was unemployed at the time.
Broccoletti wants those statements and others suppressed.
"At the outset of the interrogation, Mr. Shibin told the agents that he did not want to speak to them and that he wanted to speak to an attorney. The government alleges that Mr.Shibin later 're-engaged the interviewing agents,' expressing his desire to answer questions without an attorney present," Broccoletti wrote.
Broccoletti contends prosecutors have to prove it was Shibin who initiated the additional discussion for it to be admissible in court.
"The government does not provide any insight as to what made Mr. Shibin change his mind about wanting an attorney present," he wrote.
The federal prosecutor's office said in an email that it has until the week of August 8 to respond to the filing but declined further comment.
"The statements Mr. Shibin made after his reengagement with the agents took place after a clear and unequivocal invocation of his right to counsel, without a break in custody, and before he was provided access to an attorney," Broccoletti wrote. "Such statements are presumed involuntary, even in the presence of a subsequent waiver of rights."
Shibin's trial is scheduled for Jan. 31. Eleven others in the case have already pleaded guilty to piracy and three others are facing murder charges. The eleven men who pleaded guilty agreed to help prosecutors in this case and possibly others in exchange for the possibility that their mandatory life sentences might be reduced.
The owners of the Quest, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., along with friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were shot to death several days after being taken hostage several hundred miles south of Oman.
They were the first U.S. citizens killed in a wave of pirate attacks that have plagued the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean in recent years, despite an international flotilla of warships that patrol the area.

WARNING LETTER:
“Killing hostages is now part of the rules”
By Rob Almeida (gCaptain)
This Warning Notice, published by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), is intended for Yacht Skippers considering a passage through the Gulf of Aden, its approaches and the Indian Ocean north of 12 degrees south and west of 78 degrees east. It is the third such notice to be published on this subject and reflects the latest situation as at June 2011.
It has been prepared by a Working Party staffed by experienced small boat sailors representing the following organisations: the Royal Yachting Association, the Cruising Association; the Ocean Cruising Club; the Royal Cruising Club and the World Cruising Club. The Working Party has drawn on information and advice provided by the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA), an initiative established by EU NAVFOR (EU naval force) Operation.
A typical skiff
While ISAF recognises that the final decision on whether to enter any area where pirates operate and how to conduct a vessel in those waters remains entirely the responsibility of the master of each vessel, the current advice from the military is simple:
Do not sail in the western Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Somali Basin and Gulf of Aden. 
ISAF robustly endorses this position. It considers that sailing in these waters is highly irresponsible and strongly urges all yacht skippers intent on sailing anywhere in the area to reconsider the necessity of their plans and to seek an alternative.
2. Background to this advice 
2.1. The scale of the problem  
The affected waters consist of 2.6 million square miles of sea (an area greater than the size of Europe) and there are only 30 warships available at any one time. Some of these are necessarily in port and some are escorting world food aid programme shipping; all of which reduces assets for patrolling the area yet further.
Approximately 95% of EU trade (by volume) and 20% of Global Trade transported by sea passes through the Gulf of Aden (GoA) on passage between Europe and Asia.  Protecting this traffic and ships carrying aid to the Horn of Africa are the main priorities of the naval forces deployed in the area.
Piracy has become big business and the pirates, originally Somali fishermen no longer able to earn a livelihood from fishing, now include criminal elements from many nations.
Attacks have increased in numbers and the area affected has increased as pirate tactics have evolved. Year on year the numbers of attacks are up some 90% from 2010 to 2011.
However, as deterrence and defensive measures on merchant shipping improves, the success rate has reduced to about 1 in 5, particularly in the Gulf of Aden (GoA). This has caused the pirates to adapt their methods of operation and to range widely over the Somali Basin and far into the Indian Ocean, reaching as far south as the northern end of the Mozambique Channel. More recently activity has also been reported in the southern end of the Red Sea/Bab Al Mandeb area.
No part of this huge area can be considered safe. 
All the piracy and armed robbery incidents reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre during 2011.
Source: http://www.icc-ccs.org/piracy-reporting-centre/imb-live-piracy-map
(Courtesy of ICC Commercial Crime Services)
It is quite clear that the situation is now something of a strategic stalemate. Somalia is a failed state and the naval force is merely tackling the symptoms of the problem, A solution to the root cause that spawns piracy will require political intervention if it is to be resolved; yet there appears to be no international appetite for this.
With the limited resources at their disposal, the combined effort of naval forces in the region is failing to deter, disrupt and suppress piracy in order to support UNSCR resolutions, protect global maritime commerce, enhance maritime security and secure freedom of navigation. 
2.2. How the Pirates operate 
In recent years the pirates would typically go to sea in a long, narrow, roughly-built open boat of 30 to 40 ft with an inboard diesel towing two smaller open GRP boats fitted with high-powered outboards capable of speeds up to 25 knots. They carried enough fuel on board to achieve a range exceeding 1,000 miles and could stay at sea for as much as 30 days. On finding a ship they would fire AK47s or RPGs to intimidate the crew while attempting to board using a hooked ladder if needed. Sometimes a pirate vessel would outrun its fuel supply and the crew would perish from lack of food and water. If a ship had not been taken by the end of their deployment the pirates might become desperate and liable to attack anything including yachts irrespective of their value simply to survive and return to shore.
Until relatively recently, piracy was restricted by the monsoon seasons which made it difficult for them to operate from small skiffs in heavy weather. Now, however, they have adapted and learnt that by using mother ships and operating in well organised groups (Pirate Action Groups or PAGs), they are able to operate over greater ranges, for longer periods and through the NE monsoon which is traditionally a favourable time for yachts making passage.
This year attacks are continuing during the SW monsoon as well.
Somewhat ironically the use of mother ships was something the pirates learned following naval attempts to “blockade” the Somali coast to stop them leaving the shore.
The PAGs do not need to be able to operate the mother ships they pirate; they use the vessel’s crew to do that often treating them with extreme violence and keeping them in harsh conditions. Under the current rules of engagement governing action by the military, life cannot be put at risk. As a result, the pirates who are now no more than organised criminal gangs, have learned the value of using captive crews as hostages.  If a Naval warship draws close, the pirates simply point a gun at the head of a hostage and threaten to pull the trigger if the naval ship does not pull away. The naval forces have no choice but to comply.
Typical pirate mother ship
Mother ships range from 300,000 ton super tankers to minor merchant vessels that have been pirated, but are more usually something smaller such as the Dhow which is traditional to the area and which might easily blend into fishing fleets. Just before Christmas 2010 a group of pirates seized a sailing yacht off the Seychelles and used that as a mother ship which provided them the perfect cover to lure ships alongside who believed they were offering assistance to a distressed vessel.
The message is clear: there are no rules as far as the pirates are concerned and nothing is off limits; they have shown a ruthless disregard for humanity, a sailing vessel makes an easy target and might be the next stage in their evolution.
2.3. Recent attacks on sailing yachts in the area  
In October 2009 Lynn Rival was taken SW of the Seychelles archipelago. Rachel and Paul Chandler were held for over a year before a ransom was paid for their release in early November 2010.
In November 2010, Choizil was taken by pirates on the border between Tanzania and Mozambique – crew Bruno Pelizzari and partner Debbie were taken hostage whilst owner/skipper Peter Eldridge escaped. If alive now they are still held hostage.
On 18 February 2011, Quest, a 58 foot sloop and its 4 man crew were taken by pirates in the Indian Ocean some 280 miles south of Sur in the Oman. Quest was sailing with the Blue Water Rally before heading off on their own for Salalah before being taken. The yachting  fraternity was universally horrified when the crew of Quest was murdered by the pirates on 23 February 2011 despite being closely tailed by 4 US warships. More shockingly, pirates have been reported as saying that killing hostages has now become part of the rules; if a rescue is attempted they will immediately kill hostages.

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