Philippine Sea

Friday, August 26, 2005

Latest ONI World Wide Threat to Shipping (to 24 August 05)

Go to ONI World Wide Threat to Shipping and click on the date. Highlights:
2. NEW WAR-RISK AREAS: Effects continue to ripple from the London insurance market’s Joint War Committee decision to list the Strait of Malacca among areas subject to special war risk insurance coverage. Following the 31 Jul effective date for notices of cancellation, Industry reaction to the requirement for specific war risk insurance has been mixed, with most groups either protesting the move or advising their members not to secure the more expensive insurance. The principal lines of resistance are reportedly that the shift is not justified based upon a commercial consultancy’s report and that the risks faced, those of pirate attack rather thanterrorism, are not clearly covered under the specialized war risk insurance. Private communications indicate that actual rates being charged for the war risk cover have already had to be drastically adjusted downward. Perhaps predictably, the only group to jump enthusiastically upon the Joint War Committee bandwagon, has been NUMAST, which issued a call for hazard pay in a 23 Aug letter. Ironically, the NUMAST argument is that the case for hazard pay for crews is at least as strong as the argument for war risk cover for ships. The international shipping community appears unconvinced that the risk to either is at crisis stage (LL, LM, ONI)...(see my post here)

2. TURKEY: On 11 Aug, Turkish courts charged a suspected
terrorist with plotting to use a speedboat packed with explosives
to attack Israeli cruise ships. Reports quote the suspected
terrorist, a Syrian national, as saying “I wanted to attack
Israeli cruise ships in the open seas without harming Turkish
civilians. I have no regrets.” On 05 Aug, Israel’s transport
ministry diverted four Israeli cruise ships bound for Alanya,
Turkey, after Turkish Police discovered the alleged plot while
investigating a suspicious apartment fire. The apartment fire,
located in Antalya, Turkey, aroused suspicions after a sharp smell
of chemicals began spreading in the vicinity of the fire. Police
said they found incriminating evidence, including the suspect’s
passport. As a result of the recent Turkish anti-terror efforts,
the Israeli Counter Terrorism Bureau downgraded its Turkey
terror warning (LM, FP, REUTERS)...(see my post here)

6. SOMALIA: The general cargo ship (SEMLOW) was hijacked
26 Jun while underway in position 04:47.6N, 048:12.0E, off Hobyo.
Hijackers are demanding $500,000 to free the vessel and ten
crewmen. The vessel was under charter of the UN World Food
Program (WFP) and is carrying 850 MT of rice, donated by Japan
and Germany, destined for Bossaso, Somalia. On 12 Jul, the UN WFP
director warned the pirates that if the vessel, crew, and cargo were
not released within 48 hours, then the WFP would blacklist the area
of Haradheere and Hobyo for the next 10 years. Mohamed Abdi
Hassan/Afweyne, the leader of the group holding the vessel, denied they
were demanding ransom but rather simply guarding the seas against
illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste, and impounded the vessel
because of improper documentation. Per 01 Aug reporting, the
hijackers said they were going to release the eight Kenyan
crewmembers, but were going to keep the Sri Lankan master and
Tanzanian crewmember in captivity. Per 10 Aug reporting, the
pirates have failed to release the vessel and crew as previously
negotiated, and it is feared the talks have broken down. As part
of the negotiations, the vessel was to be allowed to return to a
Somali port by Aug 9th, and the rice onboard to be distributed
throughout the central region, vice its intended destination to
the north. Per 17 Aug reporting, the hijackers are unloading the
rice themselves for local distribution/sale in the town of Haradheere.
As a result, it is reported the price of rice had dropped sharply
and some businessmen in Mogadishu are sending lorries up to
purchase the cheap rice. Muhammad Shaykh Ali, the self proclaimed
district commissioner of Haradheere, denies any rice has been
offloaded and sold. The UN/WFP believes the majority of the rice
is intact and unsold per 19 Aug reporting. On 23 Aug, Muhammad
Shaikh Ali announced that the crew from the (SEMLOW) will be
prosecuted for illegally entering Somali waters but neglected to
neither provide details of the law nor explain why the crew would
be tried under it. Both Ali and Afweyne explained the vessel’s
owners and the WFP are wasting their time by using intermediaries with no power to release the ship, referring to the fledgling transitional federal government. ONI NOTE: Given the increased number of attacks near the location of where the Semlow was hijacked, it is possible the pirates wish to take control of another vessel for security purposes before releasing the (SEMLOW). This is likely the same militia group responsible for the attempted boarding of M/V (TIMBUCK) and successful hijacking of a LPG tanker back in April (see 20 Apr ONI Worldwide Threat to Shipping report paragraphs 5.H.3 and 5.H.4). After 18 days of captivity, the LPG tanker and crew were released unharmed upon receipt of ransom payment. All vessels should heed the IMB warning to stay as far away as practical from the eastern coast of Somalia, particularly in the area off Haradheere and Hobyo. (IMB, REUTERS, BBC, LM, ONI, LL)....(see my post here)

1. IRAQ: General cargo ship (CEY PIONEER) was boarded 21
Aug at 1945 UTC while anchored in position 29:43.6N, 048:39.E, Um
Qasr-Khawr Abd Allah Channel while awaiting berthing. Two boats
slowly approached the vessel from the port side. Three watchmen
and the officer on watch started flashing search light and torch
lights at the approaching vessels. Meanwhile, four robbers armed
with machine guns and knives, boarded unnoticed from the port side
and overpowered the watchmen. Robbers gathered up a total of seven
crewmembers and forced them into the master’s cabin at gunpoint.
By this time, the master had escaped down to the engine room.
Robbers assaulted the hostages and threatened them with guns and
knives and ordered them to open the safe. As none of the hostages
knew the combination, the robbers forced the crew to offload the
safe onto their boat. The robbers escaped in a 2 m dark green
speedboat at 2020 UTC (IMB).(see my post here)

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