Avoiding AP May Save Money – But Are the Risks Worth It?

 maritime safety news, piracy, Safety Alerts  Comments Off on Avoiding AP May Save Money – But Are the Risks Worth It?
Aug 252011

Avoiding pirate premium could put your vessel at risk

Trying to avoid the Additional Premium Area for War Risks by sailing closer to the Indian Coast is a bad idea warns James Mackintosh & Co, a correspondent for the London P&I Club. The best thing, when asked to do so, for a master to just say ‘no’.

In an alert to it’s members, the London Club says: “Members will be aware that, due to the continuing pirate attacks on merchant ships traversing the Gulf of Aden area and the widening geographical range of attacks despite the presence of a number of international navies, the Additional Premium Area for War Risks in the Indian Ocean (“the AP Area”) has been extended to up to 12 miles offshore from the Indian Coast.

In the light of this extension, James Mackintosh & Co Pvt Ltd, a Mumbai Correspondent, has written to the Association highlighting the dangers of trying to avoid the AP Area by navigating the inshore route (i.e. within 12 miles of the Indian coast), especially with regard to passage planning in and around the Mumbai area…. Their conclusion is that, given all the dangers (including crossing traffic lanes in contravention of accepted practice around Mumbai, navigating around offshore installations, and avoiding shallows), a prudent Master would in their view be within his rights to refuse to navigate the inshore route as it is arguable that any risk of piracy is outweighed by the risks of proceeding on the inshore route. A

dditionally, they indicate that “while approaching bigger ports like Mumbai, it will not be feasible to navigate through outer anchorages and traffic lanes” thus necessitating an offshore route through the AP Area in any event. Further investigation has shown that there may also be navigational safety issues at the start of the AP Area at the southern tip of India at the approach to Cape Cormorin.

At this point there is shallower water nearer the coast which narrows the possible area through which a ship can safely pass, which could cause heightened risks particularly if traffic flow is heavy. Given the above, and the almost certain need to enter the AP Zone when transiting the Indian Ocean, Members should carefully consider the issue of additional premium and who will be responsible for it before entering into new charterparties.


Nov 232010

imageAmendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, SOLAS, which will make the International Code for the Application of Fire Test Procedures, 2010 FTP Code, mandatory and aims to  improve lifeboat release hooks  are set to be adopted when the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee, MSC, meets at the organization’s London headquarters for its 88th session from 24 November to 3 December 2010.

The agenda also includes discussion on  piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden and the implementation of the Long-Range Identification and Tracking of ships, LRIT, system.

Continue reading »

The Other Victims Of Piracy – Kids

 maritime safety news, piracy, pirates  Comments Off on The Other Victims Of Piracy – Kids
Nov 092010

Somali Kids with AKs

Seafarers are not the only victims of Somali piracy, so are the country’s children, now being recruited by warlords to man their skiffs. It comes as no surprise in country where militia backing the west-supported Transitional Federal Government, TFG, as well as the radical Islamist movements such as Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam, actively recruit children.

“Some parties are using the radio, schools and putting pressure on parents” to recruit children, Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, told reporters in New York after her visits to Kenya and Somalia last week. Ms. Coomaraswamy said that killing and maiming of children was widespread in Somalia, adding that she had met some children with bullets still lodged in their bodies after being shot during clashes. Schools were often attacked as rival groups sought to impose their own curricula, she said. Continue reading »

No Ropes No Moor – Piracy

 piracy, pirates  Comments Off on No Ropes No Moor – Piracy
Aug 172010

imageRobbers stole four mooring ropes at knifepoint from the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines-registered bulk carrier, Hong Kong Star on 15 Aug 10 at or about 0345 hrs (local time), while underway at position 22° 15.15′ N, 091° 41.73′ E, Chittagong port anchorage ‘A’.

The four robbers armed with knives boarded the bulk carrier from a single engine driven wooden boat.  The robbers escaped with four mooring ropes. The crew was not injured.

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Post-Easter Pirate Round-Up

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Apr 052010

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Farragut passes by the smoke from a suspected pirate skiff it had just disabled.(U.S. Navy Photo)

While the rest of us were hunting Easter Eggs and eating low carbon foot-print bunnies the Somali pirates have been busy taking advantage of the end of the monsoon season with, possibly literally, a vengeance. It’s been a mixed-bag start to the 2010 piracy season.

As MAC writes, the South Korean destroyer Chungmugong Yisunshin has caught up with the hijacked 300,000 tonne Marshal-islands registered Samho Dream, a crude oil tanker taken 600 nautical miles off the Somalia coast in the early hours of 4 April. The tanker has has a crew of 24, five Koreans and 19 Filipinos. According to the Yonghap News Agency, the destroyer is standing 30 miles off the tanker and “will not attempt to intercept or board the hijacked vessel, as the move could put the ship’s crew at a greater risk.” Continue reading »

Stavanger On The Way Home

 piracy, pirates  Comments Off on Stavanger On The Way Home
Aug 052009

Hansa Stavanger

Having been held hostage for four months, Hansa Stavanger is now underway to a safe port accompanied by two EU NAVFOR frigates of the German Navy operating in the area in support of the EU-lead Anti Piracy Operation ATALANTA. Shortly after being released by the pirates, a German Navy security team went onboard Hansa Stavanger.

The German owned container  Hansa Stavanger has been held hostage by Somali pirates since April 4th this year. Following a successful handover of ransom yesterday afternoon, Hansa Stavanger was released a few hours later.

Shortly after the pirates had left, German crew EU NAVFOR ship Rheinland Pfalz were embarked on the container vessel by helicopter to assess the situation, provide medical aid and logistical assistance and protection.

Continue reading »

Piracy Commentary – Pirates In The Bow, Seafarers on the Front Lines

 IMB, International Maritime Bureau, maritime accidents, piracy  Comments Off on Piracy Commentary – Pirates In The Bow, Seafarers on the Front Lines
Oct 242008

Just another day at the office for these Somali Pirates

Let’s give a hand to the pirates aboard the MV Faina. Thanks to their efforts a seven-ship fleet under NATO is about the arrive in the Gulf of Aden, US warships are off the coast of Hobyo with mv Faina in their sights and a warship from Russia, which sold the vessel’s cargo of tanks to either Kenya or South Sudan should be keeping them company any time now, as well as forces from India, many of whose seafarers are being held by pirates.

Don’t get too excited, though. No rules of engagement have been agreed, they can’t figure out how to identify the pirates, whether they’re allowed to shoot or even arrest the pirates, what to do if they do grab them or how to find them, according to comments by the fleet commander, Admiral Mark Fitzgerald in a report from Reuters. The chances are that the fleet will do nothing more than escort ships carrying food aid. to replace the Canadian vessels whose service has expired.Somalia, torn by conflict (Source: Chatham House)

For pirates, it will be business as usual, protected by inaction against the world’s mightiest seapowers on one of the world’s most critical trade routes bearing some 16,000 ships a year. The will to tackle them remains on hold.

Even though pirates have, under internal law, been regarded as ‘enemies of humanity’ for more than a century. Legal issues abound regarding jurisdiction. Recently, a Danish naval vessel had to release 10 pirates back into the wild because, under Danish law they could not be tried in Denmark. More vigorously, the French captured a number of pirates responsible for the seizure of a yacht flying the French flag and is to try them in Paris and more recently seized pirate boats and turned the crews over to Puntland authorities. Britain’s Royal Navy, it is understood, has instructions not to capture pirates.

Meanwhile, the US State Department’s favourite mercenary company, Blackwater, has its own private warship on standby in the hope of picking up some passing trade from shipping companies and a bunch of other private armed security companies, such as HollowPoint, are bouncing up and down in their seats crying “me too! Me too!”.

Ground truth revealing and worrying

On the principle of ‘know thy enemy’, a recent report from the Royal Institute of Foreign Affairs, known as Chatham House, Piracy In Somalia: Threatening Global Trade, Feeding Local Wars by Roger Middleton, makes revealing and worrying reading.

While Somalia has been a basket case for more than a decade it did briefly have a relatively stable government in Mogadishu during the last six months of 2006. Piracy then almost vanished. Says the report: “This indicates that a functioning government in Somalia is capable of controlling piracy”.Piracy almost vanished when insurgents ruled Mogadishu

That government, however, was established by the Islamic Courts Union, commonly known as the Islamist insurgents, which seized control of the city from the ruling warlords . With their overthrow by the US-backed Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, piracy returned in full force.

There may be a reason for that. Most pirates originate in the Puntland region. Says Middleton: “The fact that the pirates originate from Puntland is significant as this is also the home region of President Abdullahi Yusuf (of the Transitional Federal Government). As one expert said, ‘money will go to Yusuf as a gesture of goodwill to a regional leader’ – So even if the higher echelons of Somali government and clan structure are not directly involved in organizing piracy, they probably do benefit. ”

One is entitled to wonder whether if such a government were to achieve stability there would be much impact on piracy.

Some of the money received for ransoms is also believed to be reaching Islamist Militants and being funnelled into their war efforts. Links between the Islamists and Al-Shaab, listed as a terrorist organisation by the US government, has raised concerns about ransoms paid to pirates reaching terrorists or the use of pirate by terrorists to create an incident leading to massive pollution and loss of lives.

Invisible Ships

With Mogadishu now reduced to little more than a pile of rubble by continuous conflict, pirates in need of a stable base have moved north to the Gulf of Aden since the end of 2007. Some 61 ships have been attacked or seized so far this year, a figure that rises day by day but which is, prehaps half of those that have actually been seized or attacked. Little attention has been paid to these ‘silent ships’ yet they do, in part, provide a rationale for the pirate’s activities, at least to the pirates themselves.

Spanish trawlers with West African crews habitually and illicitly reap the rich harvest of fish off the unprotected Somali coast. It is, literally, daylight robbery on a massive scale. They put nothing into the Somali economy, such as it is, but take a great deal from it.

A number of European companies have allegedly dumped toxic and nuclear waste in those same waters, polluting the fishing grounds and the beaches. Similar dumping along the Ivory Coast by Dutch company Trafigura led to at least 17 deaths and widespread health problems. Pirates aboard the m/v Faina claim that they want to use the ransom money to clean up the Somali coastline. It’s easy to dismiss such claims as merely an excuse to continue a very profitable business but the fact remains that complaints about illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste have been ignored and while no government has condoned these activities none have taken an active stand against it.

MV Faina Crew wait for ransom. Did toxic waste play a role?

One solution to that which could also make a dent in piracy would be to provide an internally mandated coast guard capability. Previous attempts to do so using private contractors have not only proved futile but provided pirates with the organisational skills to carry out attacks.

Private Affairs

Private security firms have not performed well in Somalia. Earlier this year French security company Secopex signed a deal with President Yusuf to provide marine security for Somalia and a personal bodyguard for Yusuf. The $50-$200m needed for the contract remains unfound.

US security provider Topcat signed a $50-$55m contract with the TFG in 2005 to target pirate motherships. The US government stepped in and blocked the contract on the grounds that it would breach an arms embargo. Saudi firm Al-Habiibi also won a contract but couldn’t deploy its personnel.Failed deals with private contractors may have given the pirates their skills

Somali-Canadian Coastguard had a contract with the Puntland government from 2002 to 2005. It’s effectiveness came into question when three of its personnel were sentenced to ten years imprisonment for pirating a Thai fishing boat they claimed to have been protecting. SOMCAN trained about 400 personnel in coastguard duties.

Finally, the Puntland International Development Corporation subcontracted an anti-piracy programme to Hart Security in November 1999. After training Somali personnel Hart walked away from the contract in 2002 because it was unclear whether the then Puntland government had the authority to honor it.

The net result is a group of young men, trained in weapons handling and marine tactics, with time on their hands and Somali warlords and businessmen willing to fund a new career for them. These men have trained others, formed disciplined forces which even have a ‘manual of good conduct’, and now number in their thousands.

There is one potential upside – if the international community does get its act together to create a Somali coastguard they could have a ready-made pool of potential trained and experienced recruits.

Canal Conundrum

An end to piracy would certainly be good news for Egypt. Although the head of the Suez Canal Authority, Captain Ahmed Fadl, has made expectedly anodyne comments on the influence of piracy on the canal’s fortunes there’s no denying that, as piracy has increased over the past few months revenues have started to fall. Over the past two months, according a report in Middle East Times income has fallen from $504.5m in August to $469.6m in September, with vessel throughput dropping from 1,993 to 1,872 in the same period.

Privately, the Egyptian government is concerned about the impact of piracy on its earnings from the canal, an important contributor to the country’s coffers.

Answering the unanswerable

In the face of a tenfold increase in insurance premiums and additional payments to seafarers, several companies are looking at the Cape Horn route, usually less economical. For now, competitiveness will keep companies using the canal but if bunker prices drop, then ’rounding the Horn’ might once more become common. Even without such a drop the potential is there for more companies to take the safer route, putting upward pressure on fuel and raw and manufactured goods.

In the meantime, seafarers are pretty much on their own. Some companies are now hiring armed guards forPirate in the bow, seafarers on the frontline their vessels, certain countries always have done so for their own-flagged vessels, but for the majority of vessels, especially the smaller ones like the Danica White and the Svitzer Korsakov, that’s not likely to be a practical or economic solution.

In some case, flag states may be uncomfortable with private armies on their vessels.

Of late, there has been an increase in the aggression of pirates but they still prefer live hostages. Shooting at them may encourage them to change that policy.

Low manning levels, too, make it easier for the pirates. So-called safe-manning levels may not provide enough manpower to keep a proper watch in pirate-infested waters. This is an issue that flag-states need to address and which ship companies must address. Insurers, too, could put pressure on by making it a condition of cover for piracy that enough crew be aboard to ensure a continuous watch.

One recent survey has shown that almost all pirates attacks in this area occur during daylight hours. The one exception occurred at a full moonlight. That lesson is clear: As far as possible transit the area at night. Speed, not surprisingly, is another factor, the faster you go the less likely the pirates will find and catch you and, of course, you’ll be in the area of high risk for a shorter time.Low manning levels, the pirate's friend

Keeping a continuous watch on radar and AIS watch can provide an early indication of a potential threat. Unidentified targets that appear to be shadowing your vessel may be a sign of trouble as are vessels that don’t appear to match their AIS signature. While the small skiffs used by pirates may be lost in the sea clutter the mother ships from which they are launched may well be visible electronically.

An alert and obvious visual watch may not only give forewarning but also discourage an attack, pirates don’t like you to know they’re coming.

While large vessels with high freeboard are less prone to attack they are subject to potshots from time to time by pirates who, prehaps, are hopeful that the vessel will stop. It may be wise to put a fire team on standby if suspicious boats or ships are noted.

Report suspicious activity early. Ensure that appropriate crew members know the location of the Ship Security Alert System and how, when, to activate it, but do not rely entirely on it as a means to notify the appropriate authorities that an attack is in progress.

Consider anti-piracy drills to ensure that your crew know what to do, and what you will be doing, should there be an attack. In the past few months armed pirates have been successfully driven off by an appropriately drilled crew using hoses and the master manouvering the vessel to prevent boarding. Anti-piracy drills may also encourage lookouts to keep a sharp watch.

Early alert and appropriate manouveres can be effective. The International Maritime Bureau reported two such incidents in its current weekly piracy report for 14th-20th October. Offices aboard a VLCC noted the fast approach of three fast vessels on its radar, took evasive action and changed course. In the second instance the master of a bulk carrier increased speed and manoeuvred the ship to keep the pirates at bay.

Review the resources on your vessel, including the vessel itself, with regard to how a pirate attack can be deterred. Size, speed and manoeuverability count. One enterprising master put his tug into a high-speed spin until the attackers gave up and left.

The safety of those aboard and the vessel itself is of paramount importance. The master of a bulk carrier will have different concerns to those of an LPG carrier or a cruise liner.A present from Puntland, unexploded rocket on the Sea Spirit

Once pirates are aboard, there is little that can be done. One North Korean crew did maintain control of their vessel by occupying the engine room and steering compartments and keeping the vessel away from Somali waters while maintaining contact with a US Navy warship until a navy helicopter caused sufficient distraction for the crew to overpower the pirates, resulting in several deaths. It is unlikely that most crews will be sufficiently well-trained to do something similar and the potential loss of seafarer lives almost certainly outweighs the value of such heroics.

Life as a hostage is such a traumatic experience that some victims have not returned to sea and suffer the effects of trauma for years or months afterwards. The ‘iron man’ culture so often found aboard ships can make such detention particularly difficult to take and counselling needs to be offered to victims when released.

It is important, as a hostage, to bear in mind that Somali pirates have not, so far, sought to harm their hostages. Unlike political or religious terrorists, pirates, while threatening, have nothing to gain by harming those they hold to ransom.

On average, it takes 45 days to negotiate and pay a ransom. It will be a trying period, but a ransom will be paid.

Piracy along the Somali coast will be resolved when the problems of Somalia itself are resolved. Seafarers will continue to be victimised for a long time to come.

Lessons From The Danica White

Ince & Co Article on Law and piracy

Piracy, Where’s The Love, Where Are The Bikinis?

Good News: Pirates Aren’t Terrorists, Bad News: Pirates Aren’t Terrorists

Getting French and Personal With Pirates

Don’t Keep Mum On Pirate Mothers

Piracy Needs A SASSy Response

The Danica White and The Pirates – All That Was Missing Was A Welcome Mat

Piracy Update – Svitzer Korsakov

Somalia and Gulf of Aden

Danish Maritime Authority Report On The Danica White (English)

Thomas Timlen’s worrying paper on SSAS

International Maritime Bureau

Rand Piracy Report

UK House of Commons Report

Maritime Piracy In The Modern World (American Bar Association Insights)

15 Reasons: Piracy Attack of a Ship is Different from Hijacking of Aircraft

Danica White, pirates and safe manning

Does LRAD Work?

Pirates, A Doom With A Q?

Piling Pineapples On Pirates The Russian Way

New: MAC Special – Lessons From The Danica White

 Danica White, IMB, International Maritime Bureau, Somalia  Comments Off on New: MAC Special – Lessons From The Danica White
Aug 102008

New: MAC Special – Lessons From The Danica White
Piracy has continued unabated since the taking of the Danica White in 2007.
Are lessons being learned? Bob Couttie and the Nautical Institute’s Steve Jones
discuss modern piracy.

Click Here for Podcast

Maritime Safety News Today – 19th July 2008

 accident reporting, AMSA, capsize, classification, collision, Sinking  Comments Off on Maritime Safety News Today – 19th July 2008
Jul 192008

19 July

Mersey chemical spill contained
ABC Online – Australia
The Environment Department and the Fire Service were called early this afternoon, after a container on the ship, Searoad Mersey, spilled about 500 litres of

Seamec vessel damaged in accident
Equity Bulls – Chennai,Tamil Nadu,India
Mexico with effect from July 08, 2008, that The vessel while operating at offshore Carmen Mexico, subjected to an accident on July 16, 2008 coming into .

Captain of doomed ship convicted of five charges
Shawn Ralph, captain of the ill-fated Melina and Keith II, was convicted Friday of five of the eight charges he was facing in connection with the sinking. The 65-foot vessel
capsized and sank off Cape Bonavista, NL.

Nigeria: Accident – APM Terminal Gets Foreign Experts
AllAfrica.com – Washington,USA
Mr. Michael Land Hansen said the accident occurred as the Boom of the one of the cranes missed its target while discharging cargo from a vessel.

Salvage tug to rescue stranded cargo ship
The West Australian – Perth,Western Australia,Australia
The Department for Planning and Infrastructure, the Albany Port Authority and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) are coordinating the salvage

Croatian master guilty of drug running
Lloyd’s List – London,UK
A  Croatian reefer master has been convicted by a Greek court of trafficking drugs, in a case that is sure to prompt fresh debate over how seafarers

Gov’t offers bonus to salvage firm if it gets toxic chemical out
ABS CBN News – Philippines
Bautista said retrieval operations should start immediately before the fuel and pesticides leak from the vessel and cause environmental havoc in the area.

Lack of response to Somalia piracy ‘threatens famine’
InTheNews.co.uk – London,UK
The Ministry of Defence added that Britain “has a longstanding commitment to maritime security in the region”, explaining: “The question of any UK naval .

Job Vacancy: Christian couple needed at Falkland Islands Seamen’s
Independent Catholic News – London,UK
Lighthouse Seamen’s Centre – a café/mission complex run for seafarers, fishermen and the local community of the Falkland Islands, in the South Atlantic. .

toxic waste,Princess of the Stars,Philippines,Sulpicio Lines,Titan Salvage,Melina,Keioth II,Sinking,piracy,Seamec,famine,APM,Nigeria,crane boom,Searoad Mersey,Mersey River,chemcal spill,seafarers,seamen,drugs,