HMAS Melbourne (FFG 05) is an Adelaide-class frigate commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1992. She is currently deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations as part of Operation Slipper, Australia’s contribution to maritime security operations in the region.
HMAS Melbourne apprehends alleged pirates
Royal Australian Navy ship, HMAS Melbourne, has intercepted suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia as part of maritime security patrols in Middle Eastern waters for Operation SLIPPER.
The suspected pirates were intercepted on 15 October 2013 after the Combined Maritime Forces received two reports of attempted acts of piracy against two separate merchant vessels during the previous four days.
Under the direction of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151), HMAS Melbourne was appointed as on-scene commander for a multi-national search operation, involving ships and aircraft from the Combined Maritime Forces and European Union Naval Forces to locate and intercept the suspected pirates.
With the assistance of other CTF 151 assets, HMAS Melbourne successfully located the suspected pirate vessels.
HMAS Melbourne‘s highly trained boarding team made the final approach to board and search the skiffs successfully apprehending the nine pirates.
Commander Brian Schlegel, Commanding Officer HMAS Melbourne said that the Ship’s Company knew what to do and was well trained to ensure a positive outcome.
“Melbourne’s success in disrupting piracy activity in the region re-affirms the importance of Australia’s ongoing commitment to Combined Maritime Forces,” Commander Schlegel said.
“Melbourne’s Ship’s Company have worked tirelessly to contribute to a successful outcome for both Combined Maritime Forces and for the wider Maritime Community.”
HMAS Melbourne’s boarding party provided information about various items located onboard the two vessels that could be used in piracy attacks.
In accordance with the Combined Maritime Forces direction, the pirates were embarked in HMAS Melbourne and the skiffs and associated pirate equipment was destroyed.
HMAS Melbourne is currently returning the suspected pirates to Somalia.
The quick, co-ordinated and decisive response to threats in the maritime environment highlights the importance of the continued presence of multi-national forces in the Middle East region.
HMAS Melbourne is the 56th rotation to the Middle East Area of Operations since the 1991 Gulf War and the 32nd rotation since 2001.
She is employed by the Combined Maritime Forces under the Tactical Control of CTF151 who is responsible for counter piracy operations within the Middle East Area of Operations.
Police in India have arrested the crew of a US-owned ship that is operated by maritime security company AdvanFort. In a statement issued on the AdvanFort website, the company states “as is routine in such matters, Indian authorities are auditing the vessel’s records during the port stay while supplies, provisions and fuel are being transferred.” Always good to be positive about things like this instead of pointing fingers, I suppose.
MV Seaman Guard Ohio: India police arrest crew of US ship
Police in India say they have arrested the crew of a US-owned ship accused of illegally entering Indian waters with a huge cache of weapons on board.
Officials say MV Seaman Guard Ohio was detained on 12 October by the Indian Coast Guard and is currently anchored at port in southern Tamil Nadu state.
Its 35-member crew include Indians, Britons, Ukrainians and Estonians.
The ship’s owner, AdvanFort, said the vessel was involved in supporting anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean.
But there have been differing accounts of the chain of events from the Indian authorities and the US-based security firm.
The Indian authorities say they intercepted the American ship last weekend when it was reportedly sailing off the coast of Tamil Nadu.
Police also said they found weapons and ammunition on board, which had not been properly declared.
But in a statement released on Monday, AdvanFort said India’s coast guard and police allowed the vessel to enter the port to refuel and shelter from a cyclone which hit India’s eastern coast last weekend, even thanking officials.
It added that all weaponry and equipment on board was properly registered.
In recent years piracy has emerged as a major threat to merchant ships in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, with ships and their crews sometimes hijacked for ransom.
There have been fewer attacks recently, partly because more armed guards are now deployed on board.
On Friday, police said that 33 crew members had been taken to a local police station for questioning. Two had been allowed to remain on the vessel at port in Tuticorin.
Six of the crew members are Britons and the British high commission in Delhi said consular officials had been in touch with them by email and with the local authorities, but they were still trying to clarify exactly what had happened and on what grounds they had been detained.
The US embassy told the BBC it had “no comment” to make.
According to AdvanFort there were privately contracted security personnel on board the Sierra-Leone registered MV Seaman Guard Ohio.
It said that as these men routinely provide counter-piracy protection they also had uniforms, protective equipment, medical kits, rifles and ammunition – “all of which is properly registered and licensed to AdvanFort”.
The company added that the vessel “provides an accommodations platform for AdvanFort’s counter-piracy guards between transits on client commercial vessels transiting the high risk area”.
Analysts say that anti-piracy measures on high-risk shipping routes are poorly regulated and India is increasingly sensitive to violations of its maritime boundaries.
Since February 2012 India and Italy have been embroiled in a bitter diplomatic row after two Indian fishermen were killed by Italian marines off the coast of southern India.
They were guarding an Italian oil tanker and said they mistook the fishermen for pirates.
BZ! That’s 180kg of heroin that won’t be funding terrorist groups.
Canadian warship makes significant drug bust on the high seas
Canadian warship on patrol in the Arabian Sea made what the military is touting as an important drug seizure on Saturday.
HMCS Toronto intercepted and boarded a suspected smuggling vessel, seizing 154 bags of heroin weighing more than 180 kilograms, said a news release issued late Saturday.
The drugs were catalogued and then destroyed, the release said.
The seizure took place about 800 kilometres east of the Horn of Africa.
“I’m extremely proud of the work Toronto’s team, and all those on whom we rely for support, have done to achieve this success,” said Commander Matthew Bowen, Toronto’s skipper.
“A positive outcome like this, seizing and disposing of illegal narcotics whose sale would have funded extremist groups, is a big win for Canada’s counter-terrorism efforts.”
The frigate has made a number of drug seizures while on patrol in the past few months, including seizing 500 kilograms of heroin last March and about 5950 kilograms of hashish in another boarding incident in May.
The frigate is on patrol in the region as part of an international effort to curb terrorism and deter piracy on the high seas.