Cyprus to Allow Armed Guards Onboard

2011.7.15- armed guards.jpgCyprus is preparing legislation that will allow armed guards to board merchant ships to protect the crew, vessel and cargo from pirate attacks.
Details of the new law will be discussed at the “Maritime Cyprus 2011″ conference in Limassol that starts on Monday where some 700 delegates will also debate on trade issues such as energy costs, environment-friendly transport and the freight markets where costs have risen due to piracy and increased insurance.

With the third biggest maritime fleet in the European Union and the tenth biggest in the world, Cyprus also boasts itself as the world leader in shipmanagement companies, all of whom are concerned about the safety of their ships.

The government is at the final stage of concluding the draft bill which, when passed, will make it one of the most comprehensive of its kind and help restore some order in the maritime industry that relies on navies and private security companies for its safety.

“Of the 200-300 piracies that take place every year, only two Cyprus-flag ships were hijacked by pirates and both were released, one of which last week after being held in the eastern Atlantic, off the coast of Nigeria and Benin,” Serghios Serghiou, the Director of the Department of Merchant Shipping, told a press briefing this week.

“We are in the same situation as all the other maritime nations. We cannot rely on navies to protect ships all around the world,” he said, adding that “even charterers are demanding to have security personnel on board.”
International law is very basic and does little to safeguard crews or prosecute would-be pirates.

Serghiou explained that the new law will overcome past legal obstacles and will help define issues such as the transfer of weapons on board ships and the protection of seamen in cases of conflict.

“This will also send out the message that Cyprus is willing to defend its ships, crew and cargoes,” even though the Republic does not have a navy that would patrol pirate-filled routes in the Indian Ocean or elsewhere. Cyprus does, however, participate in the EUROFOR patrols off the coast of eastern Africa with two naval officers.

“Shipping accounts for 90% of all world trade and is the cheapest method of transport. Piracy is causing major problems to the stability and costs in world trade,” said Thomas Kazakos, chief executive of the Cyprus Shipping Chamber.
“Imagine what would happen if global shipping were to come to a halt for three days alone,” he said.

Alecos Michaelides, Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communications and Works explained that piracy has also pushed up labour costs.

“The industry is having to pay higher wages for seamen in order to make the profession more attractive fro new recruits,” he said, adding that the theme of the conference will be “The Questions in shipping – Is it safe enough? Is it Sustainable? Is there enough Confidence?”

The official opening of the conference will take place on Sunday evening when the “Cyprus Maritime Awards” will be announced. The working part of the conference will be held at the “Evagoras Lanitis Centre” in Limassol from Monday to Wednesday. President Demetris Christofias will give a welcoming address to the delegates that will include IMO Secretary General Efthimios Mitropoulos, EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas, and 40 other speakers.

The conference will also discuss industry issues such as capital markets as a new perspective in ship financing, energy sustainability and the use of energy resources in a manner that would not cause environmental damages, freight market and forecasting, the global financial crisis and the prospects of recovery.

Michaelides added that an afternoon session will take place on “Maritime Cyprus: Young Executives” for young professionals under the age of 40 to discuss and analyse current issues of international shipping and to broaden the network of their contacts.

Source: Financial Mirror

 

Armed Guards Arrested In Dubai

The men from an unnamed cargoship were held during an inspection at Al Hamriya in March, court papers revealed.Coast guard officers found a white bag with two Kalashnikov rifles in the engine room and six lockers filled with ammunition.

 

The three were immediately arrested.

The case highlights the problems faced by vessels carrying security personnel, who must comply with the different laws of each country whose waters they enter.

“Security forces noticed signs of fear on the ship’s crew, which aroused their suspicion so they inspected the ship,” court documents show.

The arms and ammunition had been taken on board by the two guards, the captain said.The nationalities and identities of the three men, and the port where the guns were taken on board, were not disclosed.The captain said he had entered Al Hamriya Port to fix a mechanical problem.The company that owned the ship knew about the weapons, he said.Prosecutors said the security workers had confessed to taking the weapons on to the ship, but in court they denied doing it or even knowing the arms were there.Only the captain confessed to the weapons charges in court.He said he did not know he had to inform the authorities of the weapons and was not aware he would be charged if caught.

“It does not help them that they only entered the port to fix a mechanical problem in the ship and that their possession of the two weapons and ammunition was intended to be used to fight pirates,” the court document said.

“Ignorance of the criminal law is not considered an excuse that denied the criminal responsibility.”

The court confiscated the munitions and sentenced the men to time served – about six months – and ordered them to be deported.The ship’s status is unclear. According to former Supreme Court rulings, a vehicle used in a crime is to be confiscated by the authorities.

By Gary Dixon in London

 

Piracy Attack Indian Ocean

Live Piracy Report

Live Piracy Report
  • 354-11
  • Sun Oct 02 2011
  • General Cargo
  • Location detail:
  • Around 500nm east of Salalah, Oman
  • Fired Upon
  • 02.10.2011: 0901 UTC: Posn: 16:06.33N-062:47.60E, around 500nm east of Salalah, Oman (Off Somalia).
    A general cargo ship underway noticed a skiff approaching at 23 knots. Master raised alarm and all non essential crew retreated into the citadel. As the skiff closed the armed team onboard the vessel fired a warning flare. The skiff ignored this and continued to approach the vessel and at a distance of approximately 60 meters from the ship started firing towards the vessel. The armed team fired warning shots infront of the skiff. This too was ignored and the skiff continued to approach the vessel. The armed team again fired warning shots closer to the skiff resulting int he skiff slowing down and moving away. However after a while the skiff once again approached the vessel at 23 knots and at a distance of 700 meters fired a RPG which luckily landed and exploded in the water. The armed team once again fired warning shots resulting in the skiff moving away and returning to a mother vessel in the vicinity.

 

Piracy Attack Indian Ocean

Live Piracy Report

Live Piracy Report
  • 353-11
  • Sun Oct 02 2011
  • Chemical Tanker
  • Location detail:
  • Around 650nm ExN of Mogadishu
  • Fired Upon
  • 02.10.2011: 0350 UTC: Posn:03:50.1N-056:23.4E, around 650nm ExN of Mogadishu,Somalia.
    A chemical tanker underway noticed a mother vessel launching two skiffs at approximately eight nautical miles. The skiffs approached the vessel and at a distance of four nautical miles one skiff returned to the mother vessel. Master raised alarm and all crew except bridge team and armed security team retreated into the citadel. As the skiff closed to the stern warning shots were fired by the armed team. The skiff was seen to fall back and then fire a RPG towards the vessel. Luckily the RPG was out of range of the vessel. The skiff aborted the attack and moved away.

 

Piracy Incidents Off Somalia Coast A Big Challenge

The rise in incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia is one of the biggest challenges the shipping sector is facing currently, shipping minister GK Vasan said on Saturday.

“The shipping sector has been facing many challenges in recent times. One of the biggest challenges is the rise in

incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia,” Vasan said at the valedictory function of Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI).

 

The shipping ministry has been working in close coordination with the ministry of external affiars (MEA), the Indian Navy and international agencies to tackle this menace, Vasan said.

“Recently, we have issued guidelines for engaging armed guards from private security agencies on-board Indian flag ships,” he said.

On the company, Vasan said, “Since its inception in 1961, SCI has witnessed steady and robust growth. Today it is a world-class shipping company, having its footprint in most of the segments of the shipping industry serving India’s trade. Its modern fuel-efficient fleet accounts for nearly one-third of the country’s tonnage.”

The UPA has taken various initiatives to strengthen the port infrastructure and capacity and also augment the tonnage of Indian shipping, the minister said.

“In the last two years, 22 PPP projects have been awarded at an estimated cost of Rs 14,178 crore. The first phase of the Fourth Container Terminal in JNPT for creation of a capacity of 4.8 million TEUs, which is one of the largest in the country, has been awarded recently,” he said.

“In order to tackle marine accidents and the consequent oil pollution, we are issuing a notification regulating the movement of ships over 25 years of age. I am confident that these restrictions will make our coastline safer and cleaner,” Vasan said.

SCI, as a flag bearer of Indian shipping, has the onerous responsibility to lead the shipping fraternity and make India one of the top maritime nations in the world, the minister added.

 

Mexico: Governors Bodyguards Found Dismembered

160611Tmexico-police.jpg - 160611Tmexico-police.jpg

Mexico police

 

AFP

The dismembered corpses of two bodyguards for the governor of Mexico’s Nuevo Leon state have been found in plastic bags outside a supermarket, officials said Wednesday.

Police in the northern town of Guadalupe recovered the remains of the men, who had been working for Governor Rodrigo Medina, an official from the State Agency of Investigations told AFP, requesting anonymity.

The bags contained a message addressed to Medina, allegedly from the Gulf Cartel, which has been fighting turf battles with the rival Los Zetas Cartel in north-eastern areas near the US border for more than 18 months.

Medinaposted a message on his Twitter account saying that “threats will not stop my determination to beat organised crime.”

Guadalupe is adjoined to Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon state which was until recent years seen as one of the safest cities in Mexico.

Authorities found another five bodies in and around Monterrey early Wednesday, including one of a woman who had been beheaded.

The toll in suspected drug-related violence nationwide has surpassed 37,000 since President Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown on organised crime in 2006.

 

Dutch Owners Told to leave Armed Guards to Government

2011.9.27- pirates and armed guards.jpgA Dutch law firm has warned that Netherlands shipowners who directly hire armed personnel could face criminal prosecution.

AKD was talking in the wake of an independent report recommending the Dutch Government to provide domestic shipowners with better levels of protection against piracy, including the hiring of armed guards.

The so-called De Wijckerslooth Committee report was published to assess the desirability and possibility of deploying private sector armed security to help protect Dutch ships from the threat of attack by (mainly Somali) pirates.

It recommended that the Dutch Government moved towards a higher level of protection of its merchant fleet including, “if necessary”, the use of armed private security guards.

However, the report cautioned that security guards should only be hired by the Government and should only perform their security duties as soldiers under the full authority of the Ministry of Defence.

The authors of the report added that, under the current circumstances, it was not desirable that shipowners privately hire armed private security guards, an option which should only be considered “in case of special conditions”.

The committee argued that, if the government used its own resources, or engages reservists, or hired armed private security guards who would temporarily be given military status, this would not constitute privatisation of security duties. By creating additional defence capacity in this way, no amendment of legislation and regulations would be required.

It is envisaged that the recommendations of the committee could lead, relatively quickly, to providing the level of protection against piracy considered necessary for merchant vessels. The alternative – whereby shipowners themselves hire private security guards (an approach endorsed by the Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners) – entailed “several problems”, according to the committee and would require drastic amendment of Dutch legislation and regulations, which under normal circumstances could take “several years”.

Jan Kromhout, a partner with AKD in Rotterdam, said, “Clearly, it is the duty of government to do its utmost to protect the merchant fleet from attacks by pirates. In the event that the government is not able to fulfil its duties, for whatever reason, it will have to employ outside help. It is not desirable that privately owned companies hire armed protection to perform the duties, which are the responsibility of government, which should retain its monopoly of force.

“Furthermore, the cost of providing protection against piracy should be borne by the state. Shipowners should only be allowed to hire private armed guards in special situations, in the event that the government is not able to fulfil its duties.

“In the event that Dutch shipowners do hire armed personnel, or provide weapons to those on board, those directly involved, as well as shore-based personnel (including the ultimate management of the company) could face criminal prosecution. Furthermore, shipowners could be faced with local legislation covering the import and export of weapons in the event that the vessel has weapons on board and enters the jurisdiction of another country,” he concluded.

Source: Tanker Operator