African Leaders Discuss Gulf of Guinea Security

A map of the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of West Africa. There have been US military maneuvers in this region amid reports of so-called 'piracy attacks' of ships. by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
A map of the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of West Africa. There have been US military maneuvers in this region amid reports of so-called ‘piracy attacks’ of ships., a photo byPan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.

Jonathan, other African leaders resolve to secure Gulf of Guinea

TUESDAY, 25 JUNE 2013 20:55
FROM OGHOGHO OBAYUWANA, FOREIGN AFFAIRS EDITOR AND MOHAMMED ABUBAKAR (YAOUNDE, CAMEROUN)
Nigerian Guardian

AFTER what seems a long period of vacillation, heads of state of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), their counterparts in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as well as officials of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) have finally taken the bull by the horns in the charge to make the Gulf of Guinea safer and more secure.

Leaders of the 25 states that make up the gulf agreed yesterday at the end of their special summit on maritime safety and security, in the Camerounian capital, to establish an Inter regional coordinating centre in Yaounde, to tackle headlong escalating piracy, trafficking and other illicit activities in the strategic region.

Fielding questions from newsmen on the sidelines of the summit, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan declared that the end was near to the excesses of piracy with the commitment and determination of all the concerned leaders and countries.

He noted that the highest number of attacks were on the Nigerian waters as a result of the high volume of oil industry activities and trade, assuring that the leaders of the West African Coast and the Central African Coast would expand cooperation to check the illicit activities that were hampering economic growth of the region.

Jonathan, who commended the host president, Paul Biya, for successfully hosting the summit, expressed happiness with the way the conference ended.

His words: “The key thing about this conference is the issue of piracy and armed robbery in our coastal waters of which of course you know we have quite a number of attacks in Nigeria because of the volume of oil industry activities and the trade being a very big country.

“The only way we can contain it is for the countries within the Central African Region and West African Region to come together. Already, Nigeria and Benin have been partnering but we need to expand across the coast, the West African Coast and the Central African Coast. So, this is the beginning of the end of these excesses of piracy, so we are quite pleased with the conference”.

Meanwhile, a United Nations (UN) report this month drawing its data from the International Maritime Bureau, said piracy affected more ships and sailors off West Africa than off Somalia’s coast last year, and cost West Africa up to $950 million last year.

Also, nearly 1,000 seafarers and fishermen were attacked by pirates armed with guns or knives in the Gulf of Guinea where more than 200 people were taken hostage.

Proclaimed yesterday as the “Yaounde Declaration”, the renewed efforts by the leaders is a direct response to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2018 of 2011 and 2039 of 2012 on the Gulf of Guinea urging states to pull resources together with an assurance that a regional anti piracy strategy will get the requisite support of the global body and it’s affiliated international organizations.

The Gulf of Guinea is the northeastern part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean between Cape Lopez in Gabon, north and west to Cape Palmas in Liberia. The intersection of the Equator and Prime Meridian (zero degrees latitude and longitude) is also the gulf.

Of the twelve coastal states (stretching from Cape Verde to Angola) in the gulf, Nigeria has the largest maritime border.

Last month, a Nigerian vessel was attacked by sea pirates.

In an unreported development but now confirmed by security officials, last week, pirates in speedboats attacked an oil supply vessel and kidnapped four Indian and Polish crew members in increasingly dangerous waters off Nigeria’s coast. The gunmen launched their assault on the Singapore-flagged tugboat MDPL Continental One around 30 nautical miles from land. Subsequently, the vessel was ransacked and four crewmembers were taken hostage off the coast of the oil-producing Niger Delta.

A various times, the UNSC and sundry regional security think tanks have warned that left unchecked, the expanding insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea risks significantly endangering global trade, regional development and stability as the region becomes more sought after for oil and its strategic location.

Addressing the leaders in Yaounde, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon noted that the leaders have the responsibility of keeping the situation from escalating even as the regional anti-piracy strategy requires tremendous financial resources for effective implementation.

Delivering a speech through his special Representative and head of the UN regional office for Central Africa Abou Mousa, Ban said “less than two years ago (October 2011), the Security Council, issues it’s first ever resolution on this issue, calling on countries of the gulf of Guinea to develop a comprehensive response to piracy and armed robbery at sea. You have met this challenge head on… Now you should be reviewing the building blocks of a regional strategy developed with the support of the UN.”

Jonathan, who had a bilateral meeting with his Republic of Benin counterpart, Boni Yayi, on the margins of the summit, did not make any address at the summit’s plenary. The chairman of the ECOWAS authority of heads of state and president of Cote d’Ivoire Alhassane Ouattara spoke for the region wherein he stressed the urgent need for inter-regional cooperation to save states in the gulf from losing more revenue due to the illegal criminal activities in the area.

Nigeria’s high powered delegation consisted president Jonathan, the ministers of defense, Justice, Interior, Transport, minister of state for foreign affairs as well as a technical hand, Nigeria’s envoy to the Republic of Benin, Ambassador Lawrence Obisankin.

The Yaounde Declaration adopted yesterday is also meant to collect and share information in a coordinated manner, raise awareness of the strategic nature of the maritime sector, help develop national policies on the fight against piracy, armed robbery, etc, besides putting in place the put an Inter-regional coordinating centre.

In their final communique read by the Angola’s Candido dos Santos Van-Dunem at a session coordinated by the chair of ECCAS and president of Chad Idris Derby, the leaders affirmed the fundamental text of ECCAS, ECOWAS and GGC on good governance. They said their partners in the newly found alliance on maritime security such as of the United States (U.S.), France Britain, Russia, China, Japan, Brazil, would be expected to intervene in the huge financial outlay needed to jointly police the volatile gulf of guinea.

Addressing a session on coordination yesterday, the ECOWAS Commission President Kadre Desire Ouadraogo said the sub-regional group would take the lead in the efforts to have greater synergy with a boarding regional community. Of late, West African countries have a preponderance of maritime security issues.

The leaders also adopted and signed a declaration of safety and security in their common maritime border and directed ECAS, ECOWAS and GGC to operationalise the decision contained in the declaration with the support of the development partners.

Biya, while closing the summit, stressed that his country was “pleased by the climate of trust. It cannot be otherwise as we are mindful of the challenges to make our oceans safer and more secure. Illicit activities in the seas, coast and continental shelves bring huge stress to our governments, hence our decision to implement UN Resolution 2039.

We will achieve it through efficient coordination of our efforts. The Inter regional coordinating centre to be established in Yaounde would only ensure that we would no longer be surprised by the ingenuity of pirates. We have also welcomed the AU (African Union) ‘s continental maritime strategy billed for 2015.

Somalia: Only The Strong Survive

Despite the security gains during the last few years, Somalia isn t safe

Despite the security gains during the last few years, Somalia isn’t safe. It is safer, especially if you are armed or have bodyguards. But if you are unarmed, you are still in danger, especially if you are a foreigner (and seen to have a lot more worth stealing).

Too many Somalis are armed and many of those are also deliberately dangerous. It is also dangerous for Somalis, especially if they are journalists or Christians. Al Shabaab gunmen seek out both and often murder them in public. This sort of thing, and the continued presence of some al Shabaab men (and lots more bandits and larceny minded Somali men with guns), is discouraging many of the half million refugees in Kenyan camps from returning home.

The government is pleading with foreign governments (especially Britain and the U.S.) to let up on new banking regulations that cut off cash transfers to Somali money transfer services that will not or cannot comply with new rules meant to halt the use of these firms to move money for terrorists and other criminals. About a quarter of the Somali GDP comes from these transfers from Somalis outside the country.

The piracy problem off Somalia has declined so much in the last two years that in 2012 there was actually more pirate activity off West Africa. Over the last five years Nigeria (and neighboring countries) has seen a steady growth in piracy incidents. Last year ships containing 966 sailors were attacked off West Africa while off Somalia only 851 sailors were threatened. Nigerian pirates rarely try to ransom ships but instead prefer to loot them. This sometimes includes meeting with another (pirate controlled) ship to transfer cargo (bulk or oil) at sea. That sort of thing rarely happens off Somalia.

Source: Strategy Page

New West and Central Africa piracy and maritime law enforcement code adopted by Heads of State

IMO Press Release
New West and Central Africa piracy and maritime law enforcement code adopted by Heads of State

IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu has welcomed the signature by 22 States of the Code of Conduct concerning the prevention of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in West and Central Africa.

The Code was adopted formally by the Heads of State meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on Tuesday (25 June), attended by 13 Heads of State from West and Central African countries.

The Code was signed in Yaoundé by Ministers of Foreign Affairs or other delegates, bringing it into effect for the 22 signatory States: Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe and Togo.

“I am fully committed to assisting western and central African countries to establishing a workable, regional mechanism of co-operation for enhanced maritime security.

Maritime development is an essential component of African development and maritime zone security is fundamentally important,” Mr Sekimizu said, noting that the Code incorporates many elements of the successful Djibouti Code of Conduct, which has been signed by 20 States in the western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden area, and the existing Memorandum of Understanding on the integrated coastguard function network in West and Central Africa, which was developed in 2008 by IMO and the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA).

Mr. Sekimizu also called on countries to provide contributions for a new Trust Fund to be established by IMO for the implementation of IMO Projects for maritime security for western and central Africa.

The new multi-donor trust fund will support an expanded programme of capacity-building activities in West and Central Africa, to better enable the Organization to work with Member States, United Nations agencies and other international and regional development partners for the benefit of safe, secure and sustainable development of the African maritime sector.

The new Code was developed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission, pursuant to United Nations Security Council resolutions 2018(2011) and 2039(2012), which expressed concern about the threat that piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea pose to international navigation, security and the economic development of states in the region.

These resolutions encouraged the States of ECOWAS, ECCAS and the Gulf of Guinea Commission to develop a comprehensive regional strategy and framework to counter piracy and armed robbery, including information sharing and operational coordination mechanisms in the region, and to build on existing initiatives, such as those under the auspices of IMO.   IMO has assisted ECOWAS, ECCAS and the Gulf of Guinea Commission in the drafting of the Code, which was initially endorsed at ministerial level by a meeting held in Benin in March 2013.

Signatories to the Code intend to co-operate to the fullest possible extent in the prevention and repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships, transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and other illegal activities at sea with a view towards:

(a) sharing and reporting relevant information;
(b) interdicting ships and/or aircraft suspected of engaging in such illegal activities at sea;
(c) ensuring that persons committing or attempting to commit illegal activities at sea are apprehended and prosecuted; and
(d) facilitating proper care, treatment, and repatriation for seafarers, fishermen, other shipboard personnel and passengers subject to illegal activities at sea, particularly those who have been subjected to violence.

Whilst promoting regional co-operation, the Code recognizes the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States and that of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other States.

IMO has been involved in technical assistance projects relating to the maritime field in the region for many years and established a regional presence in West Africa in 1999. IMO currently has two regional coordinators based in Côte d’Ivoire for West and Central Africa (Francophone) and Ghana for West and Central Africa (Anglophone). More recently, IMO has been conducting a series of “table top exercises” aimed at developing and promoting a multi-agency, whole of government approach to maritime security and maritime law enforcement issues in States throughout the region.

The initial pilot exercise was held in Ghana in August 2012 with similar exercises being conducted in the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, the Gambia, Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

Funding for this work has come from IMO’s global maritime security capacity-building programme, with particular support from the Governments of Norway and the United States of America.

In relation to piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the wider Indian Ocean, 20 States have signed the Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden (Djibouti Code of Conduct), which was adopted in 2009.

IMO is also involved in the implementation of that Code, with funding from the IMO Djibouti Code Trust Fund, which has received donations from Denmark, France, Japan, the Marshall Islands, the Netherlands, Norway, the Republic of Korea and Saudi Arabia.

Source: IMO

MPA cancels licences of two bunkering service providers

MPA Singapore Press Release


The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has cancelled the licences of two bunkering service providers in the Port of Singapore with effect from 24 June 2013. The licences of Golden Lights HS Bunkering Pte Ltd, a bunker supplier, and Shing Li Shipping Pte Ltd, a bunker craft operator, were cancelled as they had contravened the terms and conditions of their bunkering licences.

Golden Lights HS Bunkering Pte Ltd was found to have breached Clause 3 of the terms and conditions of the Bunkering Licence (Bunker Supplier) by allowing another company to use its Bunker Delivery Note (BDN) to supply bunkers to the customers of that company.

Shing Li Shipping Pte Ltd was found to have breached Clause 31 of the terms and conditions of the Bunkering Licence (Bunker Craft Operator) for delivering bunkers on behalf of an unlicensed company to customers of that company.

With the cancellation of its bunkering licences, Golden Lights HS Bunkering Pte Ltd and Shing Li Shipping Pte Ltd will no longer be allowed to operate as a bunker supplier and a bunker craft operator in Singapore, respectively. All bunker suppliers and bunker craft operators operating in the Port of Singapore are required to be licensed by MPA.

MPA would like to emphasise to all licensed bunker suppliers that the bunker supplier’s licence is not transferable under the terms and conditions of the bunkering licence. All licensed bunker craft operators are also advised not to make use of any bunker tankers to deliver bunkers on behalf of any person, firm or company that is not a bunker supplier licensed by MPA.

Source: MPA Singapore

The European Union And The Somali Federal Government Strengthen Ties

On Board EU Naval Force Counter Piracy Flagship

Members of the Somali Federal Government flew on board the EU Naval Force Portuguese flagship, NRP Alvares Cabral, at sea off Mogadishu, the 24th of June.

They held talks with the EU Special Envoy to Somalia, the Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force Atalanta, and the Head of Mission for EUCAP NESTOR, to discuss how they can work together to help strengthen maritime security and economic development in Somalia.

This was the first meeting to be held at sea between EU representatives and Somali Government officials.  After the talks, the Somali Ministers were given a tour of the warship and introduced to members of the ship’s company.

“Today’s meeting was an  opportunity to demonstrate the EU’s commitment to help Somalia become a more stable and secure nation, said the EU Special Envoy to Somalia, Michele Cervone d’Urso.

We’ve highlighted the ways the EU can help Somali maritime forces to increase their capabilities to fight piracy and other illegal activities at sea, to reinforce maritime security but also to benefit from maritime resources.

The security sector, as a whole, will also be part of the “New Deal Compact” that will be endorsed at “The New Deal for Somalia Conference” in Brussels in September.”

Source: EUNAVFOR

MSC 92 meeting : Piracy & Risk Analyses Issues

Summary of the 92nd session of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee on Piracy & Risk Analyses issues

MSC 92 was held in London from 12 to 21 June 2013 with Deputy Director General of the Danish Maritime Authority Christian Breinholt as Chairman of the Committee.

The Committee went through the following issues on Piracy & Risk Analyses:

Piracy

The Committee had a prolonged debate on the piracy situation in the Gulf in Guinea at West Africa. The Committee expressed its deep concern and condemned piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Furthermore, the Com-mittee expressed its recognition of the efforts made by the coastal States in the region and international or-ganisations to combat piracy, but many countries also stressed that there is a need to increase the activities in the region to combat piracy.

Finally, the Committee requested securing ships’ implementation of anti-piracy measures, including the industry guidance.

New ship standards and the application of risk analyses

At the meeting, a working group on new ship standards and the application of risk analyses drew up guid-ance for the individual maritime administrations’ approval of alternative constructions and equivalent solu-tions on board individual ships.

The guidance contains an overview of the distribution of the roles when ap-proving alternative solutions as well as guidance on the carrying out of the approval procedure as such and how to document and report it to the IMO.

Furthermore, the working group continued its consideration of how to develop IMO regulations in the future on the basis of a risk-based approach, according to which safety is sought to be assessed on the basis of more detailed overall requirements for the desirable safety level.

For more information please click here.

Source: DMA

LPG Tanker piracy attack

IMB Report: Nipah Transit Anchorage, Indonesia

According to the IMB report, a bulk carrier was attacked the 20th of June 2013, while anchored in Nipah Transit , Indonesia

Five robbers armed with knives boarded an anchored LPG Tanker.

Two robbers entered the engine room while the remaining tried to break into the provision stores.

On seeing the mess man entering the provision store area one robber caught him and threatened him with a knife while the others escaped.

Alarm sounded and on investigating it was found that engine spares were stolen.

All crew safe.

Source: IMB

Malta introduces licensing for anti-piracy guards

Times of Malta: Maritime security

As reported by “The Times of Malta”, Malta has introduced licensing for the armed guards used on ships to ward off piracy.

Dr Fenech, managing partner of Malta-based Fenech & Fenech Advocates, which helped to draft the pro-active regulation for the Government, said: “There has been a huge surge in demand for private maritime security companies and to date, we are informed, no vessel carrying armed guards has been hijacked.

This speaks volumes, but the evident benefit of maritime security should not hide the fact that it is crucial for PMSCs to meet high standards and be properly vetted.”

Source: The Times of Malta

ReCAAP issues report for May 2013

Four incidents of robbery against ships reported and no piracy incident during this month

icons/ReCAAP.JPG

The ReCAAP ISC has issued its monthly report on piracy for May 2013. According to the report, four incidents of robbery against ships reported and no piracy incident during this month.

Compared to the same month of 2012 (eight incidents), the number of incidents reported in May 2013 had decreased by 50%. The number of incidents reported in May 2013 is the lowest compared to the same period during past four reporting years (2009-2012).

Two of the four incidents reported in May 2013 occurred onboard barges while underway. The incidents involved barge Crest 2825 occurred north of Tanjung Babi, Pulau Batam on 12 May 13, and barge Crest 289 at approximately 9.8 nm west-southwest of Pulau Berhala on 15 May 13. In the incident involving Crest 2825, the master of the Singapore-registered tug boat Crest Jade 1 reported that four men armed with knives and long knives boarded the barge at or about 2100 hours (local time) while the vessels were transiting to Malaysia.

The master activated the emergency alarm immediately, and the robbers upon hearing the alarm, fled in a small boat taking with them ship stores.In the incident involving barge Crest 289, the CSO of Singapore-registered tug boat TCL4401reported that robbers had boarded the barge between 0000-0400 hours (local time) while the vessels were passing the Tioman Island, enroute to Kuantan Port, Malaysia. The master discovered the missing items upon arrival at the Kuantan Port. In both incidents, the crew was not injured.

In May 2013, one noticeable characteristic in two of the robbery incidents is the specific targeting of barges while underway. This may be due to the inherent vulnerability of the barges as compared to the tug boats. Barges are usually unmanned while in transit making it easier for the robbers to board the vessel unnoticed. Cargoes and equipment are carried onboard the barges which provides the robbers more items to steal and more areas to hide, especially during the hours of darkness. As the barge is being towed by the tug boat at a slow speed, it takes considerable time for the tug boat to manoeuvre in order to initiate response, if any, against the robbers present onboard the barge. The robbers on being spotted escapes in the smaller high speed boats/crafts.

The ReCAAP ISC recommends that the owner of tug boat and barge may consider strengthening security measures on the barge; and the master should enhance vigilance and keep a close eye for the barge, especially in this region and in the hours of darkness.

For more information, please click at ReCAAP ISC Report – May 2013

Source: ReCAAP ICS