Ghana steps up fight against West African piracy

Good. Glad its being taken seriously. Yet more could undoubtedly be done. Particularly support from allied nations. The Ghana Navy (GN) could probably have used one of those Type 22 frigates being sent to scrap by the British government or one of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates being decommissioned by the US government. The allied nations can provide their own ships for standing counter-piracy deployments along the West African littoral, as they currently do for the East African & Persian Gulf area of operations, but to truly mitigate the regional piracy threat presented in the Gulf of Guinea the allied nations must identify, support and strengthen the principaux interlocuteurs such as Ghana and Nigeria. This should be done with ship donations, maritime security training, logistical support and direct military assistance (standing deployments, but not as large, given that the regional forces will be strengthened). OK. Rant over.

Ghana to set up special naval units, maritime crime courts to counter piracy

The Ghanaian Navy says it is setting up special boat units to deal with maritime security challenges like piracy in order to secure the country’s new-found offshore oil and gas resources.

The establishment of the special units comes after Ghana announced plans to set up the first African special courts to deal with maritime crimes, as piracy takes root in the West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea. Ghana Navy Chief of Naval Staff Rear Admiral Geoffery Biekro said apart from protecting maritime boundaries, offshore oil rigs and pipeline infrastructure, the special boats units will also fight trans-national crimes such as smuggling, illegal fishing, weapons and drug trafficking.

Biekro said foreign partners will fund the training and equipment needs for the special naval units. He added that the Ghanaian Navy is already over-stretched in dealing with national security threats, threats to economic infrastructure and even more serious threats to the security of its newly-found offshore hydrocarbon wealth.

“We also have transnational crimes that are posing serious national security threats to the country. Apart from the economic losses, there are also human security losses, with a reduction in protein intake and impoverishing of fishing communities,” Biekro said.

He said the failure of the navy to exercise full control of the country’s maritime domain has directly led to the inability to exploit fishery resources, forcing the government to import fish annually.

Biekro said oil theft remains the major economic threat to Ghana’s maritime and national economic security due to the advent of criminal gangs which connive with local officials to steal crude oil from offshore installations as evidenced by an increase in the number of foreign tankers found stealing crude oil from offshore facilities in the country’s prestigious Salt Pond and Jubilee oil fields.

Among other national maritime security initiatives, the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) in August commissioned a Vessel Traffic Management and Information System (VTMIS) to improve safety and security in the country’s waters. The VTMIS is a state-of-the-art monitoring and surveillance electronic system designed to ensure effective management of maritime boundaries, the protection of maritime resources, offshore oil resources and pipeline infrastructure.

The system can track vessels 1,000 nautical miles from the country’s shores and is operated from four control centres, eight remote sensor sites along the coast and three remote base stations on Lake Volta.

Meanwhile, Ghanaian High Court Chief Justice Georgina Woods says the country will set up special courts to deal specifically with maritime crimes before the end of this year. “Off shore discovery and exploitation of Ghana’s oil and gas resources coupled with significant increase in international trade has brought to the fore the need for the establishment of maritime courts to adjudicate the many maritime cases that will come before the courts. I have therefore decided to set up maritime courts in Accra, Tema and Takoradi,” Woods said.

He said through collaborations with the Ghana Shippers Authority, three judges drawn from the High Court will be sponsored to undertake post-graduate studies with specialisation in maritime law in preparation for deployment to the three new special courts.

http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=32332:ghana-to-set-up-special-naval-units-maritime-crime-courts-to-counter-piracy&catid=108:Maritime%20Security&Itemid=233#!

HMAS Melbourne apprehends pirates, destroys skiffs

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

HMAS Melbourne’s boarding party intercepts a suspected pirate boat.

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 closes on a suspected pirate vessel in the Arabian Sea.

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.

http://news.navy.gov.au/en/Oct2013/Operations/543#.UmG_bBCWObg