Anti-Piracy news

Aug 09 2013

All international vessels are at risk of attack by terrorists off Yemen and not just UK flagged vessels, a leading security company has warned.

Gulf of Aden Group Transits (GoAGT) issued a warning on Tuesday to all international vessels to be aware of suspicious traffic.

This warning came after the UK Government issued the highest possible security alert Monday for British shipping operating off the coast of Yemen amid continuing threat of a terrorist attack from an al-Qaeda offshoot in the region.

The Department for Transport also raised the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) threat for British shipping to level 3, which is judged ‘exceptional’. 

This indicates that credible information suggests that a security threat is ‘probable or imminent,’ GoAGT said.

Security experts said that the move was unprecedented since the ISPS code was introduced in 2004. 

*Singapore-based anti-piracy concern Gentay has introduced a series of long range acoustic devices (LRAD).

LRAD allows the user to determine intent at a safe range and thus giving the operator time to react.

Gentay said that LRAD is a critical part of a layered defense that fulfills the fundamental requirement to hail, notify & warn, thus providing a deterrent.

*The Cyprus Department of Merchant Shipping (DMS) has licensed AdvanFort to supply the services of armed and unarmed escort guards on its flagged vessels transiting piracy high-risk areas (HRAs). 

 The decision by Cypriot authorities comes just six months following a similar approval afforded by the Panama Maritime Authority (PMA) to conduct counter-piracy operations on board vessels flying the Panama flag. 

“The increasing scrutiny by some of the most important European Union countries, of armed guards on vessels flying their countries’ flags, is already having its effect, and we are pleased to announce that AdvanFort continues to pass with flying colours,” said AdvanFort president Capt William Watson.

AdvanFort has also volunteered for service in the piracy-infested waters in and around the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean as part of the US Coast Guard-co-ordinated Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System (Amver), whose members assist any nearby vessel in distress.

The AdvanFort fleet, which has vessels strategically positioned in key sea lanes surrounding the High Risk Area (HRA), is now ‘on plot’ in the official USCG program, a computer-based voluntary global ship reporting system that is used by search and rescue authorities around the world to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea.

The company also announced this week that the former country president in Tokyo for Maersk Line and Safmarine – Axel Tuetken -  has joined AdvanFort as business development director for Northern Europe.

*Maritime Asset Security and Training (MAST) has gained the official approval from the Panama Maritime Authority (PMA) to deploy armed security personnel on vessels flying the Panama flag.

Panama is the world’s largest ship registry and gaining flag status enables MAST’s teams to operate with full approval on the 5,700 plus ships that fly the Panama flag.

The latest accreditation follows MAST’s work with Fenech & Fenech Advocates, and the Maltese Government to help develop a licensing regime for PMSCs in Malta. MAST currently has SAMI, SCEG, IMCA, ADC, ISO9001 and ISO14001 accreditation for its operations.

MAST has also announced that it has just gained City & Guilds accreditation for its Maritime Security Operatives (MSO) course, enabling MoD learning credits to be used by former armed forces personnel looking to retrain for new careers after demobilisation.

*Arrests in Ghanaian waters indicate the extent of a well-organised regional piracy network, signalling a growing risk, according to a senior analyst.

Africa analyst Martin Roberts, at IHS Country Risk said: “The focus of the Ghanaian authorities' enquiries suggests the existence of a well-organised network, which had access to information about the tanker's whereabouts, to the point of specifically hiring a vessel to rendezvous with it.

“It indicates that piracy networks and their onshore support are not limited to former Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) militants and gangs in the Niger Delta.

“The plotters appear to have believed that they could find a market for the siphoned diesel in one of the best regulated countries in West Africa, as local media reported that they tried to sell it to the Saltpond Offshore Producing Company, which declined because the source of the fuel could not be established,” he said.

The background to the latest case was that four people were arrested in Ghana for their alleged connections to the chartering of a vessel, which was used to siphon off 3,500 tonnes of fuel from a tanker captured in Gabonese waters on 14th July.

The arrests were made after the Ghanaian Navy, acting on information from Interpol, intercepted the ‘Mustard’ off the Saltpond offshore oil facility on 1st August and arrested the 13 crew members.

Ghana's Deputy Minister of Information and Media Relations Felix Ofosu Kwakye said the person who chartered the vessel and its agent in the port of Tema were the main suspects among the four arrested.

He added that security agencies were checking information that it was a Ghana-based company which had hired the ‘Mustard’ to rendezvous with the recently pirated tanker ‘Cotton’.






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