HMCS Toronto seizes 180kg heroin in Arabian Sea

BZ! That’s 180kg of heroin that won’t be funding terrorist groups.

Canadian warship makes significant drug bust on the high seas

HMCS Toronto heads to the Arabian Sea as part of Operation Artemis, in Halifax on Monday, Jan.14, 2013. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRES)

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.

HMAS Newcastle conducts counter-terrorist operations in Bab-el-Mandeb strait

HMAS Newcastle (FFG 06) is a Royal Australian Navy Adelaide-class frigate, laid down in 1989 and commissioned into the RAN in 1993. She will be replaced by one of the new Hobart-class destroyers (due to commission between 2016-19).

HMAS Newcastle completes counter-terrorism focused operation

One of HMAS Newcastle’s Ridged Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) returning from boarding operations.

In July, HMAS Newcastle completed an intensive counter-terrorism focused operation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden with the multi-national Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150).

During the focused operation, Newcastle executed 58 boarding actions, three replenishment activities with foreign ships and five deterrence transits of the (BAM).

The BAM, which translated from Arabic means the ‘Gate of Grief’, is a critical choke point that connects the Gulf of Aden to the Southern Red Sea, leading north to the Suez Canal. The narrow body of water is part of a global shipping network that connects the West and the East. It is frequently used by ships travelling from Europe to nations whose maritime boarders are on the Indian Ocean. CTF 150 estimates that between 55 and 65 merchant ships transit the BAM daily.

A boarding party from HMAS Newcastle conducts Approach and Assist Visits on a boat in the Middle East Area of Operations.

Principal Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Mike Forsythe described the BAM as a high risk area for terrorism related activities.

“It is high risk because of the width of the strait and the number of small boats that operate in it,” Lieutenant Forsythe said.

“The aims of the coalition and regional partners involved in the focused operation were to build a better understanding of the patterns of life in the area, to deter terrorist activities, and restrict the terrorist’s freedom of movement,” he said.

The boarding actions executed by Newcastle during the focused operation were Approach and Assist Visits (AAV), which are conducted regularly by coalition warships to build rapport with local mariners and seek information on what they may have seen in the area. The visits allow the coalition ships to collect intelligence on patterns of illegal activity.

Newcastle used her S-70-B2 Seahawk helicopter to survey the area of operations to gather intelligence on patterns of life and identify targets for her Boarding Party to visit.

During the focused operation, Newcastle also conducted three replenishment activities with coalition ships, from France and the United States, to take on fuel and stores ensuring that Newcastle could remain in the area and focused on her mission.

The Australian crew battled through 97 percent humidity for more than four hours to complete one of the Replenishment at Sea (RAS) evolutions with the United States Naval Service oiler USNS Patuxent, which included a Heavy Jackstay. Newcastle also conducted her first evening RAS with French Ship (FS) Somme, their third replenishment activity together since Newcastle arrived in the Middle East Area of Operation (MEAO).

The focused operation was a true multi-national affair with the Australian warship interacting with British, French, U.S. and Spanish units.

“The BAM is an important strategic strait to the international community. Without it, ships would have to transit all the way around Africa. We all have an interest in the security of this region,” Lieutenant Forsythe said.

On completion of the counter-terrorism focused operation, Newcastle was assigned to another CTF 150 operation – targeting the smuggling of weapons.

CTF 150 is one of three task forces operated by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 28-nation coalition based in Bahrain. The principle mission of CTF 150 is to deter, disrupt and defeat attempts by international terrorist organisations to use the maritime environment as a venue for attack or as a means to transport personnel, weapons and other materials.

Newcastle is in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) assigned to Operation SLIPPER – the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement. Her deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990.

HMAS Newcastle’s Boarding Team, boarding the Yemeni Dhow SONA after being invited on during an Approach and Assist Visit (AAV) to build rapport with local mariners in the Bab Al Mandeb strait.

Thieves? Pirates? Terrorists? Owners warned of illegal boarders on Suez Canal transits

Thieves? Pirates? Terrorists? With the current instability in Egypt, and despite assurances to the contrary, this is a worrying prospect.

Owners warned of illegal boarders on Suez Canal transits

Crew members on vessels calling at Egyptian ports have reportedly been approached by mysterious persons seeking to board, referring to themselves only as “businessmen”.

The individuals seek passage on vessels through the Suez Canal, and, it is suspected, to engage in theft, piracy, or other unlawful activities while onboard. Crews transiting the canals and calling at Egyptian ports have been advised to remain vigilant, with continuous deck watch necessary to ensure the safety of vessel and crew.

“A vessel should not allow any unidentified persons to board,” Skuld said in a circular to members. “If persons seek to board the vessel, and they do not possess proper identification / authorisation then the Master should not permit them to come on board. In case of concern or threats, the Master should seek to alert local authorities and also the Club’s correspondents for further immediate assistance.”

“Jeanne d’Arc 2103” amphibious group returns to Toulon

The “Jean d’Arc 2013” amphibious group has returned to the French naval base at Toulon after 5-months operations in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, and regional cooperation exercises with India, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.

FS Tonnerre (L9014) is a Mistral-class amphibious assault helicopter carrier in service with the Marine Nationale since 2006. During Operation Unified Protector (Fr: Opération Harmattan, GB: Operation Ellamy), Tonnerre served alongside HMS Ocean (L12), the Royal Navy’s helicopter assault ship. Both ships deployed their attack helicopters in support of operations during the Libyan civil war.

Retour de la mission Jeanne d’Arc à Toulon

Le bâtiment de projection et de commandement (BPC) Tonnerre et la frégate anti-sous-marine Georges Leygues ont accosté à Toulon lundi 22 juillet. La mission Jeanne d’Arc 2013 s’achève après cinq mois de déploiement opérationnel. Les familles ont accueilli les marins en fin d’après-midi.

La FASM Georges Leygues et le BPC Tonnerre arrivent a Toulon apres 5 mois de mission – MN

Parti de Brest le 6 mars dernier, le groupe a parcouru près de 25400 nautiques et navigué pendant 103 jours. Le groupe a ainsi commencé son déploiement par une série d’entraînements à la projection de forces, durant laquelle il a conduit plusieurs exercices interarmées et interalliés.

Example de projection des forces en mars 2013, sur les plages du Liban, a l’occasion de l’eercise amphibie “Cedre Bleu” – SM Chenal

Un detachment de ‘Aviation Legere de l’Armee de Terre (ALAT) du 3eme Regiment d’Helicoteres de Combat (RHC) est venus completer de dispositive aerien du groupe amphibie – S Pedot / MN

Il a ensuite poursuivi ses activités en participant aux opérations de lutte contre la piraterie maritime, dans le cadre de l’opération européenne « Atalante » en océan Indien. Plus à l’Est, les deux bâtiments de la mission Jeanne d’Arc 2013 ont apporté leur soutien à la diplomatie navale et à l’industrie française, ainsi qu’à des actions de coopération régionale avec l’Inde, Singapour, le Vietnam et la Malaisie.

Enfin, avant son retour à Toulon, le groupe a soutenu des opérations de lutte contre le terrorisme de la mer Rouge au golfe d’Oman (Opération Enduring Freedom) puis en Mer Méditerranée (Opération Active Endeavour).

De mars a julliet, de l’ocean Atlantique jusqu a la mer de Chine meridionale, l amission Jeanne d’Arc s’est organisse en troid grandes phases. – Paul Senard et Serge Millot / MN

Un officer-eleve mis en situation dans le role directeur d’intervention a l’occasion d’un exercise de securite (incendie ou voie d’eau) – P Ghigou / MN

Aux activités opérationnelles de ce déploiement longue durée, vient se superposer la formation d’officiers-élèves. La mission Jeanne d’Arc donne ainsi l’occasion aux futurs officiers d’être confrontés à des situations réelles et à être responsabilisés. Tout au long de cette mission, 133 officiers-élèves issus de différents corps d’officiers étaient intégrés à cette mission afin d’y achever leur formation par un stage d’application à la mer. Ils étaient mis en situation et intégrés au plus près des réalités opérationnelles, diplomatiques et maritimes, dans la perspective des responsabilités qu’ils auront à honorer d’ici quelques semaines pour leur première affectation dans les forces.

Assessing the terrorist threat against the Sochi Olympics

When the IOC announced that Russia had bribed its way to a “successful” Olympic bid er… been awarded the privilege of hosting the 2014 Summer Olympics at Sochi, I thought to myself, “Oh dear. That’s rather close to the Caucasian hornet’s nest. I do hope the Russian authorities take all the necessary precautions.”

Sochi lays on the Black Sea, domain of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet. Given the low-outlay, high-impact of a USS Cole style attack or a Mumbai type attack it should be hoped that the Russian military have a strong… very strong… presence at Sochi.

Assessing the terrorist threat against Sochi

© RIA Novosti. Mihail Mokrushin

Throughout Russia, clocks are counting down to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The importance of the event, to both government and country, is hard to overstate. President Vladimir Putin has vested much of his personal credibility in the games, as well as the economic future of Southern Russia.

Costs are estimated to run to $33.5 billion, making the Sochi Games the most expensive Olympics in history. Thirteen massive new facilities, plus a Formula One track, are currently under construction. The investment in infrastructure is no less impressive, with roads, railways and an airport terminal being constructed to service the games.

Security is one of the key talking points of the Sochi games, of course. On July 3, Doku Umarov, leader of the separatist organization the Caucasus Emirate released a video stating that the 2014 games would be “prevented.”

Umarov had previously claimed responsibility for the 2011 terror attack on Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, the 2010 bombing of the Moscow metro, and the 2009 bombing of the Nevsky Express.

In the video, Umarov not only called on all Muslims within the region to use “maximum force” against the Sochi Games, but also signaled an end to the 2012 moratorium against attacks on Russian civilian targets. The moratorium, Umarov claimed, had been a gesture of solidarity with Russian opposition protesters.

The excuse they needed?

“The Olympics are really the world’s games” Frank Cilluffo, former White House special assistant to the president for homeland security and an associate vice president at George Washington University, told The Moscow News. “Everyone will be watching. Hosting the Games is therefore a point of genuine national pride.”

The Olympics are also an opportunity to cause the host state harm – and the Sochi Games may be no exception. “Looking to the Games in Sochi, you combine a symbolic target with the long history of bloody violence in the nearby North Caucasus, and you have a potentially toxic and explosive mix,” Cilluffo said.

This year’s muted opposition rallies in Russia may also have given Caucasus Emirate leaders the excuse they needed to terrorize civilians again.

“The moratorium was introduced at the time when public protests against Russian authorities were widespread,” Valery Dzutsev, North Caucasus analyst at American think tank the Jamestown Foundation, told The Moscow News. “By the summer [of] 2013, the situation… does not seem to be nearly as threatening to the Kremlin as it [once] was. So the insurgents may have decided that the initial rationale for implementing the moratorium did not exist anymore.”

Threat debated

“How much of a threat the group may pose outside of the Caucasus themselves is unclear,” Matthew Henman, senior analyst at Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center, told The Moscow News. “The Caucasus Emirate has been coming under a lot of security forces pressure over the past few years [as Sochi approaches], and it isn’t at all clear whether the group, or elements within the group, retain the ability to carry out decisive operations beyond the North Caucasus.”

“This is somewhat less of an issue in terms of Sochi, given its relative proximity to the North Caucasus, but the high level of security surrounding the Winter Olympics may make carrying out a successful attack a very challenging proposition for the group,” Henman added.

The authorities respond

The Russian Anti-Terrorist Committee’s response to Umarov’s statement was brief and unyielding. “All of Russia’s state institutions, special services and law enforcement bodies are constantly implementing a set of measures aimed at providing security for Russian citizens,” its official statement read.

The response from Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen republic and close Kremlin ally, was more emotional. ” [Umarov] is Satan,” Kadyrov told journalists. “I am certain that we will eliminate him before the Olympics.”

Yet according to Dzutsev, Kadyrov may be overstating his ability to go after Umarov. “The Olympics in Sochi are Putin’s labor of love, and when Umarov abuses that… even verbally, Kadyrov understandably becomes very upset,” he said. “But he cannot do much more.”

According to Henman, killing Umarov may not necessarily make the Caucasus Emirate organization go away. “As such, even were Umarov to be killed, then a successor would be appointed and the group would continue as before,” he said. “Each of the jamaats [assemblies] has suffered the loss of multiple emirs over the past six or seven years, and these deaths rarely entail a loss of capability or intent.”

It can be said that there is a bitter irony in that a spectacle designed to celebrate humanity at its best should now attract the attention of humanity at its very worst. Worse yet, according to the experts, the threat of terror from the North Caucasus will persist long after the Sochi Games are done.

“The federal and respective republican governments have engaged in concerted counter-terrorism offensives for several years now in an attempt to decisively defeat the Caucasus Emirate,” Henman said. “While they have somewhat succeeded in reducing the group’s operational tempo, they have not addressed the underlying causes of the insurgency.”

Operation Slipper: Australia’s contribution to the War on Terror

HMAS Newcastle is an Adelaide-class frigate commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1993.

The Adelaide-class is a modified version of the US Navy Oliver Hazard Perry-class in RAN service. Four ships were built in the US and two were built in Australian yards. The vessels are nearing the end of their operational life with two (Canberra and Adelaide) already decommissioned. They will be replaced by Hobart-class air defence destroyers from 2016 onward.

HMAS Newcastle participates in Counter Terrorism Operation

HMAS Newcastle’s boarding team conducts an approach and assist visit with a Dhow in the Middle East Area of Operations.

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ship HMAS Newcastle is participating in a focused operation in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea as part of the international campaign against terrorism.

During the operation, Newcastle has conducted an Approach and Assist Visit (AAV) to a Yemeni flagged fishing vessel (dhow) in the Gulf of Aden.

Newcastle’s boarding party was invited to board the Yemeni flagged vessel by its crew, and donated a small quantity of sunglasses and sunscreen to the fishermen as a sign of good will.

AAVs are conducted regularly by coalition ships to foster good relationships with the local maritime community by approaching vessels and engaging in dialogue in the maritime environment. AAVs typically include confirmation of the welfare of the mariners, and seek information on what they may have seen in the area or any issues they may have.

Newcastle’s Boarding Officer, Lieutenant Alec Fieldsend said his boarding party was well received by the crew of the Yemeni fishing vessel.

“It’s all about building relationships with them and letting them know that we’re in the area to protect them and to keep the region secure,” LEUT Fieldsend said.

“For most of these fishermen, security in the maritime environment directly relates to their ability to make a living. So, most of them are very happy to see us out here conducting patrols,” he said.

CTF 150 is one of three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 28-nation coalition based in Bahrain.

CTF 150’s Area of Operation (AOO) spans over two million square miles, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Gulf of Oman. The task force exists to create a lawful and stable maritime environment free from terrorism, smuggling and other illegal activities.

Newcastle’s participation in CTF 150 is part of her assignment to Operation SLIPPER – the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement.

Newcastle’s current deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990. She is due to return to Australia in October, after handing over Operation SLIPPER duties to HMAS Melbourne.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at

HMS Kent using bottles of water in the fight against piracy

HMS Kent (F78) is a Type 23 frigate commissioned into the Royal Navy in 2000.

Kent left Portsmouth on 25th May for a 6-month deployment East of Suez which was her first deployment following a year-long £24m ($36m) refit.

Kent finds cool water is a key weapon in the war against piracy

Sailors and Royal Marines from HMS Kent are using a simple cool bottle of water as one of their key ‘weapons’ in the fight against piracy and terrorism in the Indian Ocean.

The frigate is building up the ‘pattern of life’ of seafaring off the Horn of Africa, speaking to the crews of around a dozen merchant ships every day.

Kent’s chaplain Rev James Francis – known as the ‘Battle Bish’ – overcomes the barriers of language, culture and creed by handing the planet’s most precious commodity to a dhow crewman. Pictures: LA(Phot) Joel Rouse, HMS Kent

WHAT’S the Royal Navy’s best weapon in the struggle against criminal activity in the Indian Ocean?

HMS Kent 4.5in gun? Her Merlin helicopter, crammed with technology and Royal Marines snipers on the end of a machine-gun? The fully-honed boarding team of commandos and sailors? The team in the operations room poring over displays which draw information on the waters and skies around the ship from a myriad of sensors?

Or maybe it’s the personal touch? A bottle of chilled water for passing fishermen in seas where the temperature at this time of year is well into the 30˚s Celsius, and sometimes over 40˚C.

For all the hi-tech wizardly on the Portsmouth-based frigate – nearing the half-way point in a counter-piracy and counter-terrorism patrol east of Suez – daily interaction with crews on dhows and other vessels plying their lawful trade in ‘Pirate Alley’ between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula is just as useful in understanding what the Navy calls the ‘patterns of life’ in the region.

Kent’s boarding team approach a dhow with the frigate standing watch in the distance

On a typical day, Kent carries out around a dozen ‘approach and assist visits’ to dhows and medium-sized ships and boats, with her boarding team chatting with crews to assure them the warship is here to help.

“Operating 4,000 miles from home, in a region with 20 different languages or dialects and a vastly different culture presents challenges that require of HMS Kent the ability to interact diplomatically and with sensitivity to local personnel,” says Lt Cdr Mickey Rooney, Kent’s weapon engineer officer.

“In gaining trust and empathising with the tough existence that many of these mariners endure, there is one simple currency that secures trust, breaches all barriers and which, in terms of value, makes fossil fuels and rare metals look like small change – water.”

Before dawn Kent’s upper deck team prepare for a replenishment at sea with the FS Somme

Although the Gulf region is synonymous with oil and gas production – it’s Kent’s task along with other ships in the 27-nation Combined Maritime Forces to ensure nothing interrupts the flow of that oil and other goods by sea – it’s far from blessed with natural resources of water, particularly on the small dhows at work in the height of summer.

“As the ship’s boarding teams constantly find that for all of the water they ride on, being a mariner in the Gulf is thirsty work,” says Lt Cdr Rooney.

“The power of water can be seen first hand as one of HMS Kent’s high speed boats makes an approach to a dhow and offers a litre of fresh cold water, held high like a universal calling card of humanity. The reception is warm, friendly and without barriers.”

HMS Kent takes on fuel from FS Somme in the Indian Ocean

Cdr Ben Ripley, HMS Kent’s Commanding Officer, adds: “A simple gesture like the gift of a bottle of water – which may seem insignificant for many – goes a long way to building relationships and trust with the seafarers that HMS Kent is here to protect.

“For the Royal Navy the simple gesture of gifting drinking water to break down all barriers is turning out to be one of the most powerful forms of currency in securing safe passage for our way of life.”

Kent is currently attached to Combined Task Force 150, comprising warships from Australia, France and Canada, and working with vessels from Djibouti, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Somme like it hot… A crewman on the French support ship takes a breather during the replenishment

The force is charged with safeguarding the Internationally Recognised Transit Corridor – effectively a protected motorway of the sea for all legitimate mariners.

“The Combined Task Force is something of a counter-piracy and counter-terrorism high seas patrol – a 21st-Century CHiPs for those who remember the 1980s TV show,” Lt Cdr Rooney explains.

The force provides assurance for the safe passage of merchant vessels of any nationality through the infamous Bab Al Mendab Strait at the foot of the Red Sea and beyond.

HMS Kent, FS Somme and patrol craft from nations bordering the Red Sea form up near the Bab Al Mandeb Strait

It’s policing on a gargantuan scale, with the ‘motorway’ covering some 190,000 square miles of sea – that’s over twice the size of Great Britain – with up to 40 large scale ships passing every hour or, spread over a year, about 40 per cent of all the goods and essential materials Europe needs.

As for Kent’s material needs – notably fuel – she’s been making use of the French support ship FS Somme which is currently providing black gold to power the Coalition vessels on the ‘motorway’.

“Working with our allies in patrolling the high seas in order to reassure legitimate users that these waters are safe sends a strong message of how important the international community take this tasking,” Cdr Ripley underlines.

USS Chosin VBSS team, high res photo

WEST CHINA SEA (July 11, 2013) The visit, board, search and seizure team conducts training aboard guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65). Chosin is operating in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility conducting exercises, port visits and operations to enhance maritime partnerships and promote peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. U.S. Navy photo by Fire Controlman 3rd Class Andrew Albin (Released) 130711-N-WT787-001

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.

Yemen intercepts illegal arms shipment in Red Sea

Good to see Yemeni authorities policing their own patch. CTF-150 can’t be everywhere and alliés locaux must actively support the international mission.

New illegal weapon cargo is apprehended off the coast of Yemen

The authorities confirmed on Sunday that the armed forces managed to successfully apprehend a ship traveling off the coast of Yemen with on board an illegal cargo of weapons.

The Supreme Security Committee told the press on Sunday that the ship had been intercepted as it was entering Yemen territorial waters near the island of Zoqar in the Red Sea.

Prior inspections showed that the weapons are Turkish-made.

An official was quoted by Saba, the state news agency as saying, “The seized weapons were planned to reach its destination inside the country after being unloaded in an island of the Hunish Archipelago via small boats and then to the Yemeni coasts.”

An investigation has been launched into the incident to determine who the cargo was intended to and more importantly the identity or identities of those responsible for loading the ship with illegal weapons in the first place.

The matter is bound to strike a nerve with Turkey as it has been earlier this year, in January accused of meddling within Yemen internal affairs by providing military equipment and weapons to dissident groups, after several illegal weapon-cargo bearing alleged links to Ankara were intercepted by the Yemeni authorities.

The Turkish government had to work really hard to dispel doubts.

Whether the shipment was being sent to Yemen to be later on moved to another location has yet to be determined. Security analysts have increasingly warned that the impoverished nation is being used as a by-pass country for traffickers.

Yemen Post Staff