Piracy & Maritime Security Incidents to 8th January 2014

It appears to be quiet off the coast of East Africa at the beginning of 2014, but not so much in Indonesia nor the West African littoral.

On 2 January, five pirates boarded a drifting gas carrier 55-nm west of Corsico in the Gulf of Guinea. The crew raised the alarm and the pirates fled. The master reported that there were several small craft without AIS in the vicinity.

On 3 January, pirates boarded the general cargo vessel San Miguel and kidnapped 3 crew members 20-miles NW of Bata, Equatorial Guinea.

On 3 January, armed robbers boarded an anchored chemical tanker in Belawan Anchorage, Indonesia while it was conducting loading operations. They took hostage the duty crewman then broke into the forecastle store room and stole ship’s property and escaped.

On 4-5 January, the Ukrainian captain and Greek engineer who were kidnapped by Nigerian pirates from the tanker Althea on 16 December 2013 were released.

On 6 January, robbers boarded an anchored chemical tanker in Belawan Outer Anchorage, Indonesia. The crew spotted the robbers and raised the alarm, whereupon the robbers fled in their small craft without stealing anything. The master alerted other ships in the vicinity via bridge-to-bridge radio.

On 7 January, armed robbers boarded a berthed container ship off Doula Port, Cameroon. The duty crewman noticed suspicious movements at the forecastle & informed the duty officer who raised the alarm. Seeing the crew response, the robbers escaped in a small craft.

On 7 January, robbers boarded an anchored chemical tanker in Gresik Inner Anchorage, Indonesia. They threatened the duty watch keeper & stole ship’s stores. The robbers fled when other crew members raised the alarm.

On 8 January, robbers boarded a berthed general cargo ship at Monrovia Port, Liberia. After hearing some noise, the duty watchman noticed a robber throwing ship’s properties overboard. Upon seeing the crew response, the robber jumped overboard and escaped. The master informed local authorities who sent a port security patrol to investigate. Port security personnel helped recover some of the stolen ship’s property that was adrift near the stern of the ship.

Source: United States Navy, Office of Naval Intelligence.

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AIS Hack Can Vanish Ships

Officer of the Watch

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is used worldwide in order to track shipping vessels. Researchers from a computer security company Trend Micro found that the system can be hacked using cheap radio equipment, making fake vessels to appear, real ones to disappear, and to issue false emergency alerts.

2013.10.23 - AIS Hack Can Vanish Ships

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Don’t expect the Northern Sea Route to be croweded any time soon

Although it’s possible to pilot large cargo vessels through Arctic Waters, there are a number of reasons why it is not particularly attractive to operators. You know… icebergs an’ all that. Getting insurance can be a bit of a bugger, too.

Arctic Shipping Route Plagued by Icebergs and Insurance

The new shipping route opened up through the Arctic by climate change will not be crowded any time soon.

Cargoes of coal, diesel and gas have made the trip but high insurance costs, slow going and strict environmental rules mean there will not be a rush to follow them.

Looser ice means icebergs. One vessel has already been holed, and large ice breaking vessels, not always on hand, are a must.

“Significant safety and navigational concerns remain an obstacle to commercial shipping in the Northern Sea route, despite recent media reports of ‘successful’ transits,” said Richard Hurley, a senior analyst at shipping intelligence publisher IHS Maritime.

“AIS (ship) tracking of vessels in the area shows all vessels are subject to deviation from direct routes as a result of ice, and many areas still cannot be navigated safely without the presence of large icebreakers able to provide assistance such as lead through to clearer waters.”

Last month, a dry bulk vessel carrying coal from Canada passed through the Northwest Passage to deliver a cargo to Finland, in a trip its operators said would save $80,000 worth of fuel and cut shipping time by a week.

The world’s top oil trader Vitol brought tankers in October with Asian diesel to Europe via the Northern Sea route over Russia, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs.

The fast-growing liquefied natural gas market, in which Arctic players like Russia and Norway play a big role, has also seen maiden Arctic voyages.

Hurley said the passage of the Yong Sheng cargo vessel in August from China to Europe via the Northern Sea was only possible with the aid of the world’s largest nuclear powered icebreaker, 50 Let Pobedy, to get it through the Lapatev Sea. Ship tracking showed only four large icebreakers were available at any one time to cover the whole Northern sea route.

Separately, a small Russian oil products tanker was holed in September in the Kara Sea, also off Russia.

“Even though damage was minimal and did not cause a pollution incident, the holing revealed fragility of emergency help,” Hurley said. “Taken together, all the inherent dangers and concerns over potential Arctic pollution count heavily against time and cost savings alone when assessing the commercial viability of the seaway.”

INSURANCE AND CONTAINERS

The market is also still nascent for insurers.

“The key obstacle here will remain the insurance, as it’s still simply too risky a proposition for standard commercial insurers,” said Michael Frodl of U.S.-based consultancy C-Level Maritime Risks, who advises insurers.

“The ships aren’t ready, the support facilities and port infrastructure are not yet in place, and the risks haven’t been figured out enough to price insurance correctly.”

Others say the commercial potential is unlikely to be viable for container ships, which transport consumer goods, partly as trade flows develop beyond China in coming decades towards other regions including Africa and South America.

“The further away global trade moves from a totally China-centric export pattern, the more a short ‘polar’ route looses its appeal,” said Jan Tiedemann, shipping analyst with consultancy Alphaliner.

“The Southern route – even if longer – will always have the advantage of serving numerous markets at the same time. Think of the Middle East. Think of transshipment via the (Malacca) Straits to Australia and New Zealand. Think of transshipment in Arabia for East Africa. Think of Med and Black Sea loops.”

Until recent years harsh weather conditions, which can drop to 40 to 50 degrees centigrade below zero, had limited Arctic shipping mostly to small freighters and ice-breakers that supplied northern communities in Canada, Norway or Russia.

According to French ship classification society Bureau Veritas, there were 40 Arctic route trading voyages in 2012 for all vessel classes including oil tankers, with around one million tonnes of cargo moved. That compared with 700 million tonnes transported through the Suez canal.

Knut Espen Solberg of Norwegian shipping and offshore classification group Det Norske Veritas, said dry bulk vessels carrying coal were best suited for Arctic shipping as the potential for environmental potential was less.

“Oil and container spills have a much bigger potential environmental impact than coal, so their shipping is likely to be restricted heavily,” said Solberg, a former Arctic mariner.

http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/Arctic-Shipping-Route-Plagued-by-Icebergs-and-Insurance-2013-10-15/

Protecting thousands of miles of coastline (the UK has 11,000 and the United States has 95,000) is a daunting task

Protecting thousands of miles of coastline (the UK has 11,000 and the United States has 95,000) is a daunting task. Preventing a Mumbai-style terrorist attack is a worrying prospect.

Concern over ‘high seas security loophole’

Large merchant freighters are fitted with systems that allow the vessel’s movements to be tracked.

All vessels using international waters should be identifiable and be part of a global tracking system to close a “security loophole” on the high seas.The call was made by the Global Ocean Commission, an “independent high-level initiative on the future of the ocean”.

The commission said current technology made the idea feasible and affordable.

At present, only passenger and large merchant vessels are legally required to have unique ID numbers and tracking devices.

Previous studies have highlighted a link between the lack of unique identification and tracking technology and criminal activity, such as people trafficking, illegal fishing and terrorism.

Officials investigating the 2008 Mumbai attacks in India, which left more than 160 people dead and injured hundreds more, said the attackers used a private fishing trawler to reach the Indian city after they overpowered the vessels’ crew.

“In the 21st Century, when governments are doing so much to make their borders and citizens secure, it seems extraordinary that they have left a loophole big enough to sail a trawler full of explosives through,” commented Jose Maria Figueres, one of the commissioners and former Costa Rican President.

“There are details to be worked though, such as the cost of tracking systems, although from the evidence we have heard so far we do not think that will be an obstacle.”

He added: “For the security of citizens around the world, it seems clear that it is time to close the loophole.”

Vessels can use a number of electronic systems for identification and communication, one of which is known as the Automatic Identification System (AIS).

AIS is a short-range system, using VHF radio. However, satellites in low-Earth orbit can also detect AIS signals, which provides real-time global coverage.

‘Good guys’ rewards

The commissioners said that many governments were taking steps to address the issue in their own waters but – they added – there had been very little progress to tackle the problem in waters outside of national jurisdiction.

Another commissioner and former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband observed that legally requiring ID and real-time tracking of vessels using the high seas would also deliver other benefits, such as cracking down on human trafficking and illegal fishing opportunities.

“Mandatory vessel ID and tracking would reward those who play by the rules and penalise those who do not,” Mr Miliband said.

“It would create economic opportunities for the ‘good guys’ and improve the social conditions of seafarers.”

Writing in the journal Science in 2010, a study suggested that up to 26m tonnes of fish, worth an estimated $23bn (£16bn), were landed illegally each year.

Maritime law expert Richard Caddell said bolstering maritime security had become a priority for many nations, so the commission’s call ought to be “relatively attractive”.

“Vessels can be swiftly re-flagged and re-named so the [International Maritime Organization’s] numbering programme provides a very effective means of tracking the precise history of a ship, which is very useful for both criminal investigations and enforcing civil claims against delinquent vessels,” he told BBC News.

“Of the categories of vessels that are currently exempt from the numbering requirements, the fishing industry represents the biggest loophole.”

But Dr Caddell – from the Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law, Swansea University, UK – warned that “maritime law enforcement remains a significant problem, especially in remote areas of the high seas in which it may be practically difficult to arrest the vessel”

He concluded: “While this is a laudable initiative, much will depend upon the ability of individual states to deal with these vessels on the ground.”

The commission issued its recommendations for vessel monitoring at the end of a two-day meeting in New York and is expected to publish its final report in mid-2014.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23227445