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

Piracy reports 10-18 October 2013

Attempted Boarding by Somali Pirates
On 11 October at 0918 UTC, pirates in two skiffs fired upon the tanker Island Splendor and attempted a boarding approx. 237 nautical miles east of Hobyo, Somalia. The armed security team aboard the tanker fired flares and warning shots, whereupon the pirates returned fire with an automatic weapons. The security team engaged the pirates which resulted in the skiffs aborting the attack. BZ onboard security!

Hijack of Oil Tanker by Malay Pirates
On 10 October at 0530 local time, nine hijackers wearing masks and carrying weapons boarded the oil tanker Danai 4 while underway 20 nautical miles southeast of Pulau Aur, Malaysia. The hijackers took the crew hostage, destroyed all the communications equipment, and held the vessel until 15 October. They disembarked taking cargo (marine gas oil), cash and personal belongings. Thankfully no injuries reported.

Hijack of Bulk Carrier by Indonesian Pirates
On 10 October at 0315 local time, five hijackers boarded the bulk carrier Port Hainan at anchor at Muara Berau, Indonesia. The hijackers held one crew member hostage while they broke into storage and stole ship’s stores. The officer of the watch sounded the alarm and the crew mustered on the forecastle. After the hijackers saw the alerted crew, they left the ship and escaped. BZ to crew for swift action!

Source: US Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Marine OPINTEL Report

Maersk Alabama hijack movie ‘Captain Phillips’ opens in US theaters Fri 11 October

Maritime security report 27 Aug – 4 Sep

BANGLADESH: On 27 August, the anchored Marshall Islands-flagged container ship NADIR was boarded while at position 22:11N -091:42E, Chittagong Anchorage. Approximately 16 robbers in two boats approached the ship. Five robbers armed with long knives boarded the ship and began to lower ship’s stores into their boats. Duty officer noticed the robbers, raised the alarm and crew mustered. Seeing crew alertness the robbers escaped with stolen ship stores. Incident reported to the coast guard.

VIETNAM: On 28 August, the anchored Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier was boarded while at position 20:56N –107:19E, Cam Pha Anchorage. Six robbers boarded the ship via the anchor chain and hawse pipe by removing the cover and anchor lashing. They cut the padlock to the forecastle store room and stole ship’s properties. Duty officer noticed the robbers and raised the alarm. Upon hearing the alarm, the robbers escaped with stolen ship stores. Incident reported to the local police who boarded the ship for investigation.

VIETNAM: On 3 September, an anchored chemical tanker was boarded at 10:13 N–107:02 E, at the Vung Tau Anchorage. Six robbers disguised as fishermen boarded a chemical tanker at anchor. Duty crewman noticed the robbers and informed the bridge. The alarm was raised and the crew moved forward. Upon seeing the alert crew, the robbers jumped overboard and escaped with ship’s stores. All crew safe.

NIGERIA: On 4 September, an underway chemical tanker was fired upon at position 04:11N – 005:34E, 20 nm south of Pennington Oil Terminal. A speed boat approached the chemical tanker with intent to board. The duty officer raised the alarm, alerted the crew and made evasive maneuvers to prevent the boarding. The pirates tried to board the vessel using hooks attached to a rope. The on board security team fired warning shots at the boat and the pirates retaliated by returning fire. Facing resistance, the pirates aborted the attempt to board the vessel and moved away from the scene

Source: US Navy Office of Naval Intelligence.

Navy SEAL museum has lifeboat from Maersk Alabama pirate hijacking

Two things.

One. There’s a friggin’ Navy SEAL museum. Awesome.

Two. It’s got the lifeboat from the Maersk Alabama hijacking.

Visit Captain Phillips’ Maersk Alabama Lifeboat at Navy SEAL Museum

The Maersk Alabama was captured by Somali pirates on April 8, 2009. When you visit the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida, you can board the lifeboat upon which Captain Richard Phillips was held hostage for five days before being rescued on April 12, thanks to the accuracy of Navy SEAL snipers.

On Wednesday, April 8, 2009, four Somali pirates hijacked the U.S.-flagged cargo ship, Maersk Alabama. The ship’s captain, Richard Phillips, prevented the initial takeover by ordering his crew to lock themselves in a secure room while he remained on the bridge. To safeguard his crew and free the Alabama, Captain Phillips surrendered himself to the pirates and boarded this lifeboat to be taken ashore in Somalia.

The next day, the U.S.Navy destroyer USS Bainbridge arrived on the scene and began negotiating with the pirates for the release of Captain Phillips. While negotiating, the crew of the Bainbridgee stablished a “control net” around this lifeboat to prevent the pirates from receiving support from pirate mother ships in the area.

On April 10, Captain Phillips noticed a lapse in the pirates’ security and attempted to escape from the lifeboat to swim to the Bainbridge. The pirates shot at him with their AK-47s and recaptured him. His situation became dire as the pirates became more desperate under conditions of extreme heat, unsanitary conditions, high winds and the effects of chewing quat and sleep deprivation. They hoped to drift closer to the Somali coast and have greater negotiating leverage.

On Saturday April 11, the pirates agreed to be towed by the Bainbridge as one of them came aboard to begin negotiating for the captain’s release. Later that day, a team of Navy SEALs parachuted into the area and were brought aboard the Bainbridge. They took position on the fantail of the Bainbridge, trained their sniper rifles on the lifeboat tethered behind the ship and waited in the 100+ degree heat. On Easter Sunday, April 12, the captain of the Bainbridge, Commander Frank Castellano, determined that Captain Phillips’ life was in danger and ordered the SEAL snipers to take the shot.

You can board the Alabama lifeboat at the Museum and see the holes left by the SEAL bullets as they opened fire simultaneously, firing three bullets and killing three pirates.

The Maersk Alabama lifeboat arrived at the Museum on in April, 2009. The museum assisted the makers of the motion picture Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks, due out in October, 2013.

http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/Visit-Captain-Phillips-Maersk-Alabama-Lifeboat-at-Navy-SEAL-Museum-2013-09-05/

US judge releases Somali pirate before trial

Ali Mohamed Ali was indicted over the hijacking of the CEC Future. In “ye olde days” we hung pirates. Now they’re released to wander the streets.

Judge to Release Alleged Pirate Before Trial

A federal judge said Wednesday she will release an alleged Somali pirate ahead of his trial this fall, saying it was “pretty extraordinary” to hold someone presumed innocent in jail for more than two years.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle said at a hearing that she will issue an opinion Thursday that releases Ali Mohamed Ali. He’ll be subject to 24-hour monitoring while awaiting trial, which is scheduled to begin with jury selection on Oct. 31.

Ali is accused of negotiating a ransom payment during a November 2008 pirate takeover of a Danish merchant ship in the Gulf of Aden.

It will be the second time that Huvelle ordered Ali released pending trial. She also did so in July 2012, after the government appealed one of her pretrial rulings in the case. But an appeals court quickly reversed her and ordered Ali back into custody.

The government indicated it will appeal this latest ruling, too. Assistant U.S. Attorney Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez asked Huvelle to suspend her ruling while the government appealed it; the judge said no.

The government argued Wednesday, as it did last year, that Ali posed a flight risk. But Ali’s lawyer, Matthew J. Peed, noted that his client didn’t try to flee when he was out for 10 days last year. Other than that, he’s been locked up since April, 2011.

“It’s a long time to be locked up in D.C. jail,” said Huvelle, adding that the jail is not set up for long-term stays.

Huvelle said that the jurors probably won’t reach a verdict in the case until after Thanksgiving.

“Imagine if they find him not guilty and he’d been in jail for 32 months,” said Huvelle, an appointee of President Bill Clinton.

Huvelle briefly addressed Ali directly, telling him she’s ordering him released because she believes in the Constitution and due process. She also said he’ll be in a better position to prepare for trial outside of jail.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/judge-release-alleged-pirate-trial-20155884

Indian government issues instructions for armed guards on merchant ships

New instructions cover Indian-flagged merchant vessels.

Armed Guards for Merchant Ships

Suitable guidelines have been issued by the Government on deployment of armed security guards on board merchant ships to enable deployment of private armed security guards on Indian flag merchant ships particularly when transiting through the high risk area (HRA) in the Gulf of Aden region in Africa.

Government has taken various preventive/mitigating security measures, which inter-alia, include the following:-

(i) M.S. Notice No.1 of 2011 issued providing for elaborate anti-piracy measures (Best Management Practices), including safe house/citadel.

(ii) Banning of sailing vessels to ply in waters south or west of the line joining Salalah and Male vide DGS M.S.Notice No. 3/2010.

(iii) Naval escort provided by Indian naval ships in the Gulf of Aden since 2008.

(iv) Enhanced vigil by the Indian Navy in the Indian EEZ and westward upto 65 degree east longitude.

(v) Active participation of India in the security meetings of the International Maritime Organization, Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) and other international fora.

(vi) Submission of Document No.27/9/1 at the IMO Assembly meeting held at London on 21-30.11.2011for flag states to provide information on the welfare of captive crew, efforts for their release and also on continued payment of their wages.

This information was given by Minister of Shipping Shri G.K. Vasan in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today.

http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=97974

Pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, July 2013

Source: Office of Naval Intelligence (unclassified)

19 July: The Vanuatu-flagged offshore supply vessel C Viking (2197 GT) was boarded at the Usari Oil Field off the coast of Nigeria. Pirates looted the vessel and destroyed equipment on the bridge before disembarking.

18 July: The United States-flagged bulk carrier Liberty Grace (28836 GT) experienced an attempted boarding attempt in the Lome anchorage area off the coast of Togo. The crew of the bulk carrier used a spotlight, fire hoses and flares to repel the boarding attempt. A patrol boat from the Togo Navy arrived after the incident.

16 July: The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Ocean Centurion (23328 GT) was hijacked at 05:29N – 001:38 E, approximately 46nm southeast of Lome, Togo. Armed pirates in 2 speed boats approached, boarded and hijacked the tanker while underway. They took hostage all the crew members, looted personal belongings, and ordered the Master to steer towards the Togo/Benin border. The pirates disembarked and escaped via speedboat, 12nm from the coastline. Two crew members were injured during the hijacking and were transferred ashore for medical treatment. A patrol boat from the Togo Navy arrived after the incident.

15 July: The Malta-flagged chemical tanker Cotton (23248 GT) was hijacked at 00:26 S – 008:51 E, approximately 13nm off Port Gentil, Gabon while underway. Approximately 25 gunmen armed with AK-47 assault rifles hijacked the tanker and took its crew hostage. The vessel was released, with all crew safe, on 22 July.

14 July: The Gabon-flagged landing craft Renovation (940 GT) was boarded while underway off Port Gentil, Gabon. Approximately 20 gunmen boarded the landing craft, looted the crew’s personal possessions and escaped.

10 July: An anchored chemical tanker experienced a suspicious approach at 06:17 N, – 003:21 E, approximately 5.4nm southwest of Fairway Buoy, Lagos. The tanker’s armed security team fired one warning shot when the small boat came within 50m of the vessel, causing the boat to depart the area.

7 July: Gunmen boarded a supply vessel at 04:24 N – 007:03 E, in the vicinity of the New Calabar River, Nigeria while the vessel was underway. The captain, chief engineer and a deckhand were reported to have been taken hostage.

5 July: An anchored bulk carrier was boarded at 06:26 N – 003:23 E at Lagos, Nigeria. Armed men were spotted by the boatswain who alerted the duty officer. The boatswain was wounded by gunfire before other crew members came to his assistance. The gunmen escaped by speedboat. The injured crew member was hospitalized for treatment.